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Open burn resolution passes legislature

by Minden Press-Herald

A House Concurrent Resolution regarding an environmental study on conditions when explosives are openly burned has passed both legislative bodies.

HCR 118 directs the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to “develop and implement a sampling plan for testing of the soil, ground water and air at the commercial facility permitted to open burn and open detonate, during normal operations, to determine sufficient information to make informed decisions on the use of the process in normal operations.”

Within six months, LDEQ will have to complete a sampling plan, performing the sampling and analysis of its findings and report to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment and the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

Within 30 days following the adoption of the resolution, LDEQ is directed by the legislature to work with Clean Harbors Colfax, LLC to form a dialogue committee regarding all site activities.

“This resolution should begin the process of elimination of open burning munitions and explosives at Colfax and the state as we move forward with this issue,” Rep. Gene Reynolds, District 10, said.

The resolution was debated on the Senate Floor Wednesday with no opposition with a vote of 37-0. Reynolds says the resolution is now law and needs no signature from Gov. John Bel Edwards.

According to legislative documents, the resolution passed unanimously with a vote of 87-0.

HCR 118 was filed in response to the withdrawal of House Bill 11, which in its original form would have banned the open burning of munitions and dangerous explosives within the State of Louisiana.

Reynolds was a key leader in the fight to stop open burning in Louisiana in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s push to open burn more than 16 million pounds of demilitarized M6 propellant improperly stored at Camp Minden by Explo Systems, Inc.

Sen. Ryan Gatti, District 36, filed a marriage bill to HB 11, Senate Bill 426. It is currently pending the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, but Gatti says he won’t move forward with the bill in light of this compromise.

Gatti, who was a class attorney representing the citizens affected and evacuated following the explosion at Camp Minden in 2012 against Explo, says he’s pleased with the outcome of the resolution, as it a good compromise.

“The resolution is a sound compromise that provides for the safety of the community and the interest of the business,” he said. “Rep. Reynolds is a true advocate for his constituents and worked very hard on this compromise.”

In November 2014, during a public meeting, the EPA pushed open burning as a safe way to dispose of the munitions. Another public meeting was hosted by the EPA in December, where they were met with strong opposition to the open burn and asked the EPA to form a dialogue committee to find an alternative method of destruction.

By the end of February 2015, the dialogue committee submitted six alternatives to open burn, and ultimately, the EPA chose the contained burn unit with a pollution abatement system that scrubs the gases emitted from the destruction of the M6 and clean burning igniter. The air that is disbursed from the abatement system is said to be cleaner than hospital air.

As of May 16, Explosive Service International, the Baton Rouge-based contractor chosen to handle the contained burn, has destroyed 1 million pounds of the M6 propellant with near zero emissions. Currently, they are undergoing a comprehensive performance test on the stack emissions.

On Friday, June 3, Dr. Slawo Lomnicki, the person chosen to represent the Camp Minden Citizen Advisory Group during the CPT, will update the Camp Minden CAG on where the test currently stands. The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m., at First Baptist Church in Doyline.

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