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Matejowsky: Money may slow M6 destruction

by Minden Press-Herald

The Louisiana Military Department “narrowly” has enough money to complete the burn, M6 Project Coordinator Winston Matejowsky said.

In Monday’s Citizens Advisory Group meeting, his answer came on the heels of a question regarding what happens after the completion of the M6 disposal at Camp Minden.

“The Department of Justice gives us 80 percent of everything we ask for,” he said. “If we can justify the need and we spend the money, we’ve done the work, they give us 80 percent. We don’t have enough money to finish the contract. The plan is not the problem, it’s the money.”

He went on to explain that if the Louisiana Military Department “cashes out,” and an additional issue comes up, that means the USDOJ would not be responsible for it, the state would be on the hook.

“There is money there to pay for the entire contract, but they take so long to give it to you that there will be some down time,” he said. “They are going to pay for everything. It’s a done deal.”

To date, Explosive Service International, the contractor hired to dispose of the M6, has yet to submit a closure plan to the LMD and Environmental Protection Agency, said Adam Adams, EPA on-scene coordinator.

“Optimally, you have to have a plan submitted and approved before it is implemented,” Adams said.

Matejowsky said they want to “get away from emergency operations into regular operations, draft the plan, get it approved, and then start work.

“Everything up until now has been emergency operations,” he continued. “There’s been some actions taken before plans are approved. Those things happen during emergency operations, and the closure plan usually happens during a typical operation.”
He said ESI is putting a plan together.

Adams said there was no set target date for the plan to be submitted, only that it be approved before it was implemented.

CAG member Rick Broussard said they have some teeth to push ESI into submitting the closure plan, at the cost of a fine for every day the plan is late. Originally, the closure plan was to be submitted by Dec. 30, 2016, but they reportedly missed the deadline to have it approved before the last of the M6 was destroyed.

“Something should have been addressed in the contract relative to that, and we have received no information on the amendment to the contract,” he said.
Matejowsky said all the amendments made to the contract are on the Louisiana National Guard’s website, www.geauxguard.com.

In other CAG news, a tentative date in May is set for the EPA’s Superfund Division to host a meeting on the current superfund status at Camp Minden. A conference call will be set up this week between CAG Chair Ron Hagar and the Technical Assistance Services for Communities to get more information on what they need to cover in their presentation.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss alternative uses of a superfund site.

Adams said the meeting may be moved to later in the summer, because the main focus is on completion of the M6 destruction right now.

Members of the Haughton community were in attendance and some spoke out against the contained burn chamber staying at Camp Minden. Eric Ockstadt, of Haughton, said he was against it, because he was concerned about the environmental impact over the long-term.

“I have children, and I live near a new middle school,” he said. “I don’t want a truck going down there and possibly having an accident, possibly exploding harming these children, or my neighbors, or the people of Doyline. When that bunker blew, it shook my house in the middle of the night. I’m retired military, and the shockwave alone could wipe out neighborhoods, not including the chemicals.”

A meeting has been set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 21, at Haughton Town Hall. Reps. Gene Reynolds, District 10, Dodie Horton, District 9, and Sen. Ryan Gatti, District 36 are expected to attend. If the town hall meeting exceeds capacity, it will be moved to the Haughton Fire Department.

To date, there is 1.6 million pounds of M6 left in 12 bunkers to destroy. An estimated completion date, weather permitting, is April 13.

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