Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis of the Louisiana Army National Guard, in a letter addressed to the EPA’s Region 6 administrator Ron Curry, says he intends to begin the contract procurement process now, even as the dialogue committee is set to meet for the first time Thursday.
“I made this decision because of the rapidly deteriorating condition of the propellant,” he writes, “and due to EPA’s expressed willingness to change the disposal remedy. Rather than wait for the Dialogue Committee to complete its work, I wanted to have potential contractors concurrently working on the pricing of alternative methods immediately so that the Louisiana Military Department, as the contracting authority, will be in a position to move quickly based on the outcome of the EPA’s Dialogue Committee.”
Curtis says the issued contract will be performance-based, and the request for quotes will not “specify the method by which the M6 is disposed, but that public safety will be the most important consideration in the award.”
Curtis testified before the Louisiana Senate Environmental Quality committee Monday, explaining the events that occurred in October 2012, when several thousand pounds of M6 propellant blew at Camp Minden. He announced the executive order gives him the authority to go out for quotes for methods other than the open tray burn, which as of now, is still the method of disposal in the contract.
Jane Williams, an advocate for the nonprofit California Community Against Toxins and with Earthjustice, is a member of the dialogue committee, and is in Minden today. At a dinner meeting Wednesday night, she said the most frustrating thing is many of the technologies developed to counter using the open tray burn were paid for by the U.S. Army.
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone into developing these technologies,” she said in an interview Wednesday night. “The loophole, or exemption, was passed in 1980 by the EPA and it’s 2015. We’ve developed the technologies since then.”
She made it clear that as long as the dialogue committee meets, she will be in Minden.
The committee will meet Thursday from 1 until 6 p.m. to begin searching for a safe, cost effective disposal method of nearly 19 million pounds of M6 propellant that was improperly stored by Explo Systems Inc., leading to the subsequent explosion felt for miles around in 2012.
The committee is comprised of individual volunteers, community leaders, local and statewide organizations, scientists, elected officials, and federal and state representatives. The meeting is open to the public.