During the first conference call of the technical work group, members tentatively set the criteria for proposals to be considered in alternate methods of disposing of millions of pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden.
This work group is a subcommittee of the approximately 30-member dialogue committee.
Some of the criteria suggested included cost, destruction efficiency, timeline, number of pounds a company can safely dispose of per day, emissions, availability of the technology and the number of acres of land needed for the process, including a buffer zone.
Even though environmental economist Jane Williams strongly suggested limiting their choices to Department of Defense Explosive Safety Board approved technologies, the group decided to leave their options open. While they will consider ESB approved options for rendering the material non-explosive, it was suggested they might use a combination of methods and companies to complete the process from beginning to end.
A possibility would be to use an ESB permitted company to make sure the M6 is decommissioned, and then use another company for the disposal of it, even if that means repurposing the leftover material.
Dr. Brian Salvatore, a chemistry professor at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, says stability and the lack of monitoring still remains an issue.
“I’ve said many times I’m not downplaying any explosive risk here, but the evaluation of the stability is something that the Louisiana Army National Guard has been presented with the opportunity to do,” he said, “and for whatever reason, a comprehensive evaluation of stability has not been done.”
Doug Sarno, one of the facilitators of the meeting, said the challenge is going to be gathering legitimate sources and trustworthy information. The idea is to make sure everyone is comfortable with the information they are receiving.
Another concern remains the U.S. Army’s silence and lack of participation as the discussions in the dialogue committee continue. Sarno says they are working to get the Army to the table, and still no luck yet.
Dr. Robert Flournoy, committee member, says a big part of the puzzle missing is the technical experts in the Army. He emphasized the need for their expertise in this whole process.
“We need to have those people on board because we’re under a time frame in which we have to make some quick progress for the instability of the explosives,” he said.
Sam Mims, dialogue committee member, says the Army may never become a part of the process.
“We cannot sit back here and rely and depend on the Army to come to the table,” he said, “because they may very well not ever come to the table. We’re going to have to proceed with what we have. We do have a time limit, and if we keep messing around, the time frame is going to demand we do something, and it may not be what we want to do.
It’s my feeling they aren’t coming to the table, and we have to move forward.”
Sarno made it clear that the process for requests for information by the National Guard and the purpose of the dialogue committee are two separate things and are not connected.
The next conference call was Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Call 1-866-900-8984, with the conference ID 86569299. This will be a meeting of the entire dialogue committee.
Over the coming weeks, the technical work group and the dialogue committee will meet twice weekly until they meet again in person in March. Meeting dates will be published as they become available.