CAMP MINDEN — As of Tuesday, 7.7 million pounds of demilitarized M6 artillery propellant has been destroyed.
Members of the Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group were given a tour of the contained burn chamber site, where officials with
Explosive Service International explained the process in greater detail.
Brian Salvatore, CAG member, said everything meets his expectations, although he still has a slight concern regarding employees’ inhalation risk from dust at the site.
“That’s the only critical comment I had, because inhalation risk is much more appreciated when those Material Safety Data Sheets were written,” he said. “The MSDS for M6 is ancient, but so much has been learned since then. As far as the technology and my confidence in the operators, 10 out of 10.”
Ron Hagar, CAG chair, was given the opportunity to push the button to set off the ignition of the M6 during one of the cycles, and while he said it felt good, he understands the gravity of what’s taking place.
“I was very pleased with their afterburner,” he said. “It was functioning hotter and longer than essential. From what I have observed, they are absolutely being as safe and efficient as they can be.”
The propellant is trucked in from the bunkers to the material staging area, where it is separated from its packaging and placed into the burn trays in 880-pound increments. Jason Poe, ESI vice president, said once nothing is left but the propellant, the tray is covered with a fire-retardant material and trucked on a flatbed to the unit. After it is uncovered, a forklift then lifts the tray from the truck and places it on a track.
The tray is then remotely moved into the chamber, sealed and burned. Within just a few seconds, the propellant is destroyed and the contaminants from the burn go through the pollution abatement system.
Inside the control room some yards away, each part of the process is monitored.
Dean Schellhase, project manager, showed CAG members what was happening as the contaminants reached the Continuous Emission Monitoring System, where four chemicals are monitored, including oxygen levels, carbon monoxide, mono-nitrogen oxides and total hydrocarbons.
“The air coming out of our stack, which is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is twice as clean as the air we are breathing,” Poe said.