The Environmental Protection Agency has released its decision on the method to dispose of nearly 16 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden.
Contained burn with the necessary filters is the method chosen, says David Gray, director of external affairs for EPA Region 6.
“(Louisiana Military Department) recommended Explosive Service International and their contained burn method of disposal be utilized for the disposal of the approximately 15 million pounds of M6 propellant and 320,000 pounds of clean burning igniter,” Gray said in a news release Friday morning. “The recommendation includes accepting the advanced air pollution control options to maximize safety and flexibility in handling the rapidly decomposing materials and deteriorating storage and packaging materials.”
He says the EPA has completed an extensive review of the state’s recommendation with the safety of the public as their most important consideration.
“This action is another important next step in fulfilling our promise to the community to clear the way for an alternative technology to dispose of the materials abandoned by Explo and left deteriorating at the site,” Ron Curry, EPA regional administrator, said. “We are extremely pleased that the state carefully considered the Dialogue Committee’s input in their review of vendors and a final recommendation.”
Dr. Brian Salvatore, a chemistry professor at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, says he’s pleased with the decision, even though he understands not everyone will feel the same.
“I think it is a state-of-the-art incineration method, and I know that everybody in the community doesn’t feel the same way about incineration,” he said, “but I think if we’re going to have to get rid of it in a hurry, we might as well use an established method and a state-of-the-art form of that established method. I’m pleased with it.”
Frances Kelley, with Louisiana Progress Action, says while she’s pleased the EPA chose a different method than the open tray burn, she feels the SuperCritical Water Oxidation method would be the safer choice.
“While incineration is safer than an open burn, there is no reason why the U.S. Army should refuse to honor its public commitment to let Camp Minden have the safest solution,” she said in a news release. “Taxpayers funded the military’s extensive research on supercritical water oxidation, purchased the SCWO unit, and are currently paying for it to sit in storage not being used.”
She went on to day they have serious concerns about the incinerator option, and Louisiana Progress Action would continue to call for the safest solution.
In a news release, EPA officials explained what the system will do, its pollution abatement system as well as giving a proposed timeline of how long it will take to dispose of the M6. In a report, the EPA outlines technical comments ESI should follow, including magazine priority.
“The quote included an insightful analysis of the priority of the magazine,” according to the report. “EPA encourages the vendor to reevaluate and update that priority based on such information contained in the March 2015 Explosive Safety Technical Assistance Visit Report. In that report, the compromised CBI was recommended to be prioritized.”
The report also tells the vendor they should “develop a community involvement plan in cooperation with the EPA to keep the community involved throughout the process and establish a community information center for face-to-face information exchange with the public.”
The site recommended for the M6 destruction is Area 1 at Camp Minden due to its secluded location, EPA officials say. Emissions monitoring is also a top priority, they say, recommending periodic sampling of dinitrotoluene, dibutylpthalate and diphenylamine.
“Prior to the normal destruction operations, a performance test will be conducted to ensure that the entire system, including the combustion unit and the (pollution abatement system) are working properly to meet with the emissions standards for CO, total hydrocarbons, PMs, chlorine and D/Fs,” officials say. “During the test burn, the operating conditions for future operations will also be established.”
The timeline is expected to take roughly 15 months from construction of the unit to the completion of the remediation of the M6 propellant. According to the vendor, the system will take about five months to construct. The throughput, or rate of what will be destroyed, is approximately 63,360 pounds per day.
“This will provide a capability to complete the destruction of the M6 and CBI in less than one year following start of operation,” EPA officials say.