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Open burn still on the table

by Minden Press-Herald

The open tray burn method of disposal for millions of pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden is not off the table.
But Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Ron Curry says the whole idea of the Camp Minden dialogue committee was to consider the alternatives.

“One of the things we looked at in the AOC is trying to make sure that we have the flexibility within that AOC to move forward,” he said. “Our desire is to look at our action memo, look at the AOC and try to avoid having to renegotiate the AOC. We believe we have the language in that AOC to move forward with an alternative remedy.”

The AOC is the Agreement and Order on Consent, the settlement agreement that has set open tray burn as the method of disposal for the M6 propellant at Camp Minden.

Frances Kelley, with the concerned citizens group and Louisiana Progress Action, says she felt like something needed to be in writing stating there would be no open burn.

When specifically asked this question, Curry says open burn is not on the list of alternatives they are considering. Louisiana State Rep. Gene Reynolds helped clarify Curry’s statement, asking if it was fair to say he couldn’t officially take it off the table because of proposals already submitted for open tray burn. Curry’s reply was, “Yes, it is fair to say that.”

John Stanley, director of Homeland Security for Webster Parish, says he felt comfortable that the open tray burn method is off the table, even though Curry wouldn’t come right out and say it.

“I think it’s off the table, and I think the alternative they choose will set the precedent for what the Army does for the next 50 years,” he said.

Rick Broussard, representing the City of Minden as the mayor’s alternate, said, “It’s on the table, but it’s not on the table.”
The dialogue committee presented the EPA and the decision-makers with six alternative technologies to consider before awarding a contract:

Super critical water oxidation

Microwave reactor process (not approved by the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board)

Rotary kiln

Humic acid hydrolysis – neutralization

Tunnel furnace and

Contained burn indoors

So what’s next now that the committee has made its recommendations? Curry went through the process and talked about what will take place now. The first thing is these recommendations go directly to the EPA. The EPA will then issue an action memo, which is a “performance-based prescription for the technologies that are to be selected.” He says that could come as early as Tuesday, March 17 but could be a day or two later.

On Wednesday, March 18, Col. Ron Stuckey, the Louisiana Military Department project coordinator for the removal of the M6, will start to review proposals in respect to the action memo. Proposals will also be reviewed with the attributes set forth by the dialogue committee. The attributes outline the parameters of what the community wants to use when considering proposals. Those attributes include no open burn.

Stuckey says after that, he will receive the EPA’s action memo, and competitive quotes will be due by 5 p.m., March 18. They will then review those quotes, which will take about one to two weeks and then select a contractor with a method.

The name of the contractor selected will be submitted to the EPA for approval. Once approved, the contract will be awarded. Stuckey added all bids will not become public record until the contract is awarded.

Kristi Celico, facilitator, commended the dialogue committee for their hard work and their quick cohesiveness in coming to a resolution with the amount of information and science they had to comb through over the last month or so.

“It’s unbelievable what this community has accomplished in such a short time,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the level of passion, and frankly, perseverance to get this solved. What’s really been impressive is not only the commitment, but the science and bringing the science together with reality with what community members want. And making that marriage is really a tough one.”

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