The Louisiana Military Department is acting on recommendations by the U.S. Army to delay potential explosions from compromised M6 propellant stored in 92 bunkers at Camp Minden.
In an email from Col. Pete Schneider, Louisiana National Guard public affairs officer, several recommendations were listed with actions taken. The recommendations are listed in the Technical Assistance Visit, or TAV report, that the U.S. Army released to the EPA and the public following a visit March 9-11 when they received word one of the bunkers had been compromised.
“Safety is our top priority,” he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to remediate the things they brought up in that report. We’re looking into those (blow out) doors. Ultimately, we want to get this stuff disposed of, and the committee is meeting now to select a contract.”
The recommendations, listed on page 6 of the report, and the LMD’s actions, provided by Schneider, are as follows:
Item No. 3: To repair vent to Magazine 2419 – The vent has been repaired. The LMD is also inspecting vents on all magazines and will make repairs as required.
Item No. 7: Move material from underneath the cracked arch in Magazine 2310 to dry portion of magazine – Complete.
Item No. 8: Destroy safely the CBI (clean burning igniters) and M6 propellant in compromised packaging – Waiting for EPA guidance.
Item No. 9: Inform personnel on Camp Minden of the increasing risk of catastrophic auto-ignition event – Notification will be made March 27. Schneider says they are notifying the tenants and everyone at Camp Minden by written notification and by onsite visits to each one.
Item No. 10: Inform public of the increasing risk of catastrophic auto-ignition event – Report posted to the EPA/Explo website and forwarded to Camp Minden Dialogue committee members. Copies of the report given to community leadership and emergency operations.
Item No. 11: Design and install “blow out” door – Recommendation being staffed.
Item No. 12: Prepare firefighting, law enforcement, mass casualty and evacuation plans – emergency response plans have been developed to include an exercise with first responders that will be implemented within the next 45-60 days.
The report disclosed that the Army’s concern of a catastrophic event is increasing the longer the munitions stored at Camp Minden remain untouched. In their visit, they found bunkers with heavy condensation, so much so it looked like it had literally rained inside, according to earlier reports from Col. Ron Stuckey, project coordinator for removal of the M6 and CBI.
Officials also found a vent “rusted” closed as well as mold on the packaging of some of the CBI stored in one of the magazines.
David Gray, with EPA Region 6, said in a statement Tuesday, his agency is working closely with LMD as well as the Army to monitor the situation as a review committee combs through 10 bids submitted to clean up approximately 16 million pounds of M6 propellant, arguably the largest stockpile of old munitions in the nation.
“Public safety continues to be our first consideration,” Gray said in the statement. “EPA will continue to inform the public of any updated information regarding the risk posed by the materials abandoned at Camp Minden.”