The final report by the Camp Minden Dialogue committee has now been released to the public and is on the EPA’s website.
In the report, it gives a brief background of why the dialogue committee was formed, the circumstances at Camp Minden regarding the millions of pounds of M6 propellant stored in 97 bunkers, the criteria used to arrive at an alternative solution and the alternatives other than the open tray burn method of disposal.
“At the end of its analysis, the committee did not converge on a single technology, but rather identified a range of potential technologies and a number of key performance attributes that are recommended for consideration during the decision process,” according to the report.
One of the key attributes is to “meet the highest possible standards for emissions,” listing “open burning is not an option,” as a bullet point in the summary. The attributes represent what the dialogue committee wishes to see the government agencies use when choosing an alternative method.
In the comments from individual dialogue participants, several seem to support the Super Critical Water Oxidation, or SCWO, process to eradicate the munitions at Camp Minden. Dolores Blalock, with the ArkLaTex Clean Air Network, LLC, says she supports SCWO because she feels it is the safest method.
“I want to go on record with for [sic] Super Critical Water Oxidation as the M6 disposal method as my personal preference after examining the alternatives,” she said. “With three machines, SCWO should eliminate over 60,000 pounds of M6 each day. The system is portable. Their (General Atomics) SCWO system has required Army Explosives Board approval.”
Several others expressed their support for the SCWO system, commenting in the report they feel the environmental cost to the health of the community is very low, even though it produces a lot of wastewater.
Other comments from dialogue participants regarded the committee and other factors.
“The outcome of this process will affect the health, safety and economic livelihood of the entire region,” Rick Broussard, with the City of Minden, said. “To be a part of this has been very sobering. The intensity of the many evaluation periods has been higher than anything I have ever witnessed and being around that level of intellect is very humbling.”
Ron Hagar, dialogue member, supports another of the six technologies recommended by the committee – Arctech’s Actodemil process. However, he says the U.S. Army seems to focus on a combustion or thermal process rather than another alternative.
“Based upon our research of disposal options, most of the Concerned Citizens I represent do not see any thermal combustion of M6 as a safe alternative,” Hagar said, “but we question our capacity to move the U.S. Army away from their focus upon the incineration process they are performing daily throughout the nation, and which they obviously want to do here.”
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality also released a statement in the report, commenting they agree with the committee that a consensus was not reached; however, they did not have enough information to “perform a thorough assessment of the feasibility or ability to comply with applicable Louisiana environmental standards and regulations at this time.”
It goes on to say LDEQ “stands ready to review any proposal” for a technology that would comply with Louisiana standards and regulations consistent with the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent, the document which lists open burn as the destruction process of choice by the U.S. Army.
The Environmental Protection Agency released a statement via Ron Curry, Region 6 Administrator, saying they are ready to move forward with an alternative method.
“This report is the result of a tremendous commitment by the community to seek alternative solutions to address the materials at Camp Minden,” Curry said. “It represents the culmination of endless hours work, tireless study and research, and the incredible understanding and knowledge of the participants. I strongly believe that public engagement better informs decisions – both for the EPA and for the community.”