SHREVEPORT — Many people from all walks of life and from different parishes affected in the region, have come together to inform the public of what’s going on at Camp Minden from many angles. They are using social media, speaking with elected officials and getting into area schools to spread the word of what could happen if the explosives are disposed of by open burn.
Josh Fast, who started the Concerned Citizens of the Camp Minden M6 Open Burn Facebook page, said he recently went to Byrd High School, and one of the classes called Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office to voice their support against the open burn. He and Lydia Thomas are talking to teachers and administrators so the teachers can choose how they approach the subject with their students and get them talking.
“Once we gave them (students) the low down, they were asking these really great questions,” Fast said. “It was really uplifting, because we didn’t know what we were getting into with high schoolers. The first class, I called (Gov.) Bobby Jindal, and we all left a voice mail.”
Fast and Thomas both said each class period in which they spoke, the students made the call to the governor’s office to tell them to “stop the burn.”
Thomas said she was really impressed by the number of kids who want to volunteer and how many “open ears” they had.
“I mean, they were really worried,” she said. “They definitely want to get involved. If you give them the opportunity, they really do want to help and are affected. And I think a lot of them are going to go home and tell their parents about it.”
Outreach has gotten into the churches as well. Pastors are gathering to talk about the issue with their congregation and are encouraging others to talk about it as well. Several pastors have said their church facilities are open to the Concerned Citizens group to host informational meetings or if the committee needs a place to meet for a strategy session. Rebecca Shelley-Sherrard, a Doyline resident who attended the meeting, said City on a Hill Pentecostal Church in Minden will be open for meetings such as the one in Sibley recently. The Rev. Jeff Ramsey, pastor of the church, she said, has offered his church.
“One of the ladies who was at the Farm last week said he passed out a petition,” she said, “and she said they passed out the petition during church services Sunday (Jan. 19) and everybody signed it. He (Ramsey) did say that any time we needed it, we were more than welcome to use their building.”
The push to stop the open tray burn method for the disposal of approximately 19 million pounds of M6 propellant has gained serious momentum, but the Concerned Citizens of the Camp Minden M6 Open Burn aren’t stopping their “Stop the Burn” campaign until a safer method is chosen.
Frances Kelley, with Louisiana Progress Action, said the goal for the group is “fighting for safe disposal of the explosives at Camp Minden and we’re fighting against the open burn.”
Concerned Citizens have hit this issue from all angles, including community outreach to inform the public of what’s taking place.
“We have been in contact with national environmental experts and communities that have been affected by similar situations, and there have been people advising us that for 20 or 30 years fighting against open burn and detonation of munitions,” she said. “They have been in this fight for a long time. They understand the political contacts, they understand the national contacts.
“So they are very invested in us winning here, because this would be one of the largest of its kind, and there are alternatives. They have worked very hard to develop technology that would allow these explosives to be disposed of safely,” she continued. “So they’re saying if we can do this in Louisiana, we’ll be able to do this in our states. If we stop this in Louisiana, then that could stop the use of open burn everywhere.”