The Camp Minden dialogue committee met for the first time Thursday and narrowed down choices of disposal of nearly 19 million pounds of M6 propellant to ones approved by the Explosives Safety Board.
However, it wasn’t without some conflict. When it came time to discuss which disposal methods to be considered, Col. Ron Stuckey, project coordinator of the M6 removal, was met with disapproval when he said he wanted to see the open tray burn method on the table, as most in the room came into the meeting thinking the open tray burn method was off the table, period.
Frances Kelley, advocate for Louisiana Progress Action and a member of the Concerned Citizens group, countered saying the open burn method is off the table, because there is no community acceptance. The law also prohibits the open burn of hazardous waste.
Stuckey says it should be left on the table because this method of disposal is done in the United States every day.
Concerned Citizens member Sam Mims says if the final decision comes down to the chosen method after the push for community involvement, it would be met with a lot of opposition.
“If they do the open burn, there’s going to be a mess,” he said. “Some of us are willing to go to great lengths to protest the open burn.”
Mickey Walsh, a member of the Concerned Citizens of the Camp Minden M6 Open Burn, seemed to diffuse the situation a little when he said some in the “discovery process” were farther along than others. For instance, the Concerned Citizens are probably farther along in the scientific research than the general public.
“They’ve done the research,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it for two months. The whole purpose of the Concerned Citizens is to stop the open burn.”
Jane Williams, who works for the nonprofit California Communities Against Toxics and is a member of the Sierra Club, talked to the committee about the different methods of disposal, saying there won’t be enough time to find an alternative that isn’t already approved by the Explosives Safety Board. It would be best to only consider alternatives that are ESB permitted, she added.
Another concern is that the U.S. Army, in which a seat is saved on the committee, was noticeably absent. Dr. Brian Salvatore, a chemistry professor at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, says the Army should have been at the meeting, and was disappointed they weren’t there.
Kristi Parker Celico, facilitator, assured Salvatore and the group they were working on trying to get the Army to the table.
The idea, says David Gray with EPA Region 6, is the Army has the expertise and the knowledge to help the committee make a more informed decision. But overall, he said the meeting went well.
“I think they got an enormous amount done for the first time of this group coming together,” he said. “I think that’s pretty remarkable. They seem to be looking forward and looking at alternatives. I was very impressed with the way they were able to condense down to some practical things they could look at very quickly. I actually thought from the public comment that it seemed the public really appreciated what the group is trying to do, and I think that’s important too.”
The purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to set the tone and lay the groundwork for the committee to focus on the task at hand, which is to find an alternate disposal method.
Even though Stuckey was met with opposition for trying to put the open burn method on the table, he said he’s ready to move forward with disposal of munitions that may be becoming more unstable every day.
“Our role in this process is simply to support whatever method this committee agrees to that will dispose of the M6 safely and expeditiously,” he said.
Two conference call meetings are set for February 18 and 19 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day. Meeting dates and times will be published in the Minden Press-Herald as they become available.
Minden Dialogue Committee – Volunteer List CAMP MINDEN, WEBSTER PARISH, LA
Rebecca Shelley, Doyline
Sheila Herrin, Doyline
Sam Mims, Dubberly
Annetta Garner, Shreveport
Ron Hagar, Saline
Dolores Blalock, ArkLaTex Clean Air Network, LLC
Frances Kelley, Louisiana Progress Action
Marylee Orr, Louisiana Environmental Action Network
Representative Gene Reynolds
Minden Mayor Tommy Davis
Doyline Mayor Gary Carter
Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler designee, Steven Jackson Webster Parish Policy Jury President Jim Bonsall Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton
Webster Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness John Stanley Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington
Brian Salvatore PhD, LSU Shreveport
Robert Flournoy PhD, Environmental Toxicologist
Wilma Subra, Subra Inc.
Mickey Walsh, Biologist
Slawomir Lomnicki PhD, LSU Superfund Research Center and Department of Environmental Services
EPA – Thomas Ruiz and Sam Coleman
LDEQ – Karen Price and June Sutherlin
Louisiana National Guard – Colonel Ronnie Stuckey
Louisiana State Police – Command Technician Taylor Moss
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals – Dr. Luann White and Dianne Dugas
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness – Jennifer Reynolds, Regional Coordinator