M6 destruction now complete at Camp Minden

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CAMP MINDEN — As of Wednesday afternoon, Explosive Service International has burned the very last tray of M6 propellant at Camp Minden, but they aren’t done yet.

ESI Vice President Jason Poe said although they’ve addressed the dangerous part of the job, there are many other aspects that must be completed before they complete the contract. They are moving out of the emergency response mode and into the cleanup phase, he said.

Adjutant General Maj. Glenn H. Curtis watches as preparations are made for the contained burn chamber to turn into Camp Minden. Bruce Franklin/Press-Herald

“There are several other aspects of the job that are going to take us several weeks to complete,” he said. “We have 92 magazines that we have to clean out before we can turn them over to the Louisiana Military Department as our contract calls for.”

ESI will now go back into each bunker to make sure there is no residual M6 left in any of the bunkers and return the bunkers to a usable state. They will also begin the cleanup process at the site, cleaning rental equipment used throughout the project as well as the site itself.

The ultimate decision on whether ESI will stay after the contract is completed is up to Gov. John Bel Edwards as the contract is between ESI and the LMD. Edwards has yet to make a decision and doesn’t plan to make one until he meets with local legislators, Edwards’s Communications Director Richard Carbo said.

As for a permit to operate beyond the M6 project, Poe said they have not discussed seeking a permit nor have they sought one from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

“We’re trying to finish the contract out, and upon completion of the project, we’d like to have the LMD as well as public officials grade us on our success,” he said. “If they deem we accomplished what we set out to do under the contract, we’d like to see if this would fit into the uses of Camp Minden for what it’s been deemed to be used for by LMD. We would ask to discuss the possibility of a lease. We have not done that, I have nothing in writing or anything verbally. We have been running 24/7, focused on the completion of the emergency project we were hired to do.”

The contract has been extended to Aug. 31, and Poe said the extension came about due to inclement weather and the 30 days they shut down during the Environmental Protection Agency’s review of the comprehensive performance test.

“That includes everything,” Winston Matejowsky, the LMD’s M6 project coordinator said during a Citizens Advisory Group meeting Monday. “May 15 is the date we said all the M6 would be gone. Of course, we’re beating that schedule right now, and they were given 90 days plus a little bit to take care of everything else. That’s all the sampling, the dismantling, everything.”

There are no set plans at this time to host a public meeting to discuss the completion of the destruction of the M6; however, Poe intends to remain transparent through the remaining process.

He thanked his employees for their dedication and commitment to making sure the project went smoothly.

“I commend our employees for the tremendous job they’ve done,” he said. “They put themselves in harm’s way every day for their community. We are proud of the great work they did on this project.”


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