Contractors, officials describe M6 destruction

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Officials from Explosive Service International and El Dorado Engineering, as well as environmental officials described the process from beginning to end in the destruction of millions of pounds of M6 propellant deteriorating every day at Camp Minden.

“The nice thing about tonight is that the contractor’s here,” said Ron Curry, Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator. “We’re here, we have a large number of dialogue committee members here; tonight is kind of the first step toward completion.”

Jason Poe, ESI vice president, spent time at the beginning of a public meeting at Camp Minden Monday, talking about the process by which they will destroy the M6.

“We routinely work in less than ideal conditions with explosives, which makes us uniquely capable of handling this stuff up here,” he said, speaking of the M6 at Camp Minden.

He showed photographs from the last site visit they conducted, which showed barrels upon barrels and packages of the M6 stacked high on each other. One of the photographs showed where some of the stacks had fallen over and were kept off the ground by nothing more than the band of the barrel.

There are dangers associated with the cleanup, he says, but it will be done as safely as possible.

“I’m going to keep my guys safe which translates to you, the community, will be safe,” he said, adding that his employees’ safety is a top priority.

Bob Hayes, with El Dorado Engineering, explained the contained burn unit with the pollution abatement system, calling it the “Cadillac” of pollution abatement systems. A contained burn unit like the one that will be built here is already in use in Belgium, he says. He spent a great deal of time taking the public through the entire system – how the M6 will be placed into the unit, how it will be destroyed and the path emissions will take through the abatement system, saying the air coming out at the end of the process is cleaner than the air everyone was breathing in the room.

Paul Nony, project director, with Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health LLC, will be conducting the air sampling in the community.

Water sampling (ground and surface) will take place throughout the entire process to make sure nothing from the destruction process gets into the water.

Dr. Slowamir Lomnicki, an associate professor of environmental sciences with the LSU Superfund Research Program, says he felt this method of destruction was the best solution given the urgency of the situation.

“In my opinion, many of them (other methods) were just not giving enough assurance,” he said of the contract selection process.

The dialogue committee member, also on the review committee for selecting a contractor, says he felt many of the bids submitted just didn’t have the experience with M6 or couldn’t be done quickly enough.

“With this particular company (El Dorado), I already saw they had experience,” he said. “They’d done it and the technology for the pollution abatement is top notch, and I know this technology. I’ve seen it in many, many places and its different devices put together, and that’s what convinced me. From my perspective, if you look at the other technologies, incineration, when it’s done right, it has the potential to destroy everything.”

Poe says dirt work for the construction of the unit has already begun and actual construction of the unit will begin in the coming weeks. He says once destruction actually begins, weather permitting, the throughput rate is about 60,000 pounds per day.

The contract is good through December 2016.

Members of the dialogue committee, citizens advisory group, EPA, Louisiana Military Department, elected officials (state and local), and others were in attendance.

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