The Webster Parish Police Jury is being asked to rescind a resolution against keeping the burn chamber at Camp Minden once Explosive Service International has completed destroying 16 million pounds of M6 propellant.
John Madden, co-owner of Madden Contracting, approached the police jury during its monthly meeting Tuesday, to share his thoughts on keeping the burn chamber. Madden didn’t ask jury to take a position either for or against, but to merely rescind the resolution unanimously passed in December 2016.
He said if the chamber stays, he would be 40 percent owner in the endeavor.
“It is our intention, as part of buying into what is now known as ESI, to purchase a rotary kiln and compatible air abatement equipment to demil/dispose of munitions that are not suitable for disposal in the existing burn chamber,” he told jurors. “Should the existing burn chamber be allowed to remain and we buy into the venture, we would locate the proposed rotary kiln on the Webster Parish side of Camp Minden for tax purposes.”
He went on to say his family intends to set up the ownership “in such a fashion so as to be able to perform a revenue sharing or donation entity for the betterment of Webster Parish and adjoining municipalities.”
The idea is to set it up as a foundation, so that a percentage of the net profit goes back to the parish and municipalities, he said.
“It will add more people than the 35 currently there, if the chamber is allowed to stay,” he said, adding that his family’s proposal would sustain 70 to 100 jobs.
If the chamber and the proposed rotary kiln stays, Madden suggested the jury hire an outside environmental company to track emissions from both the chamber and the kiln’s abatement systems. The company would pay for the environmental oversight with the police jury getting the results first. He said the reports would go to the police jury, then the company and be available to the public.
Juror Daniel Thomas, District 3, said he was encouraged that the environmental test results would come to the jury first and that the company would pay for the sampling.
“It’s just an added layer of comfort,” Madden said. “…I just want to be extremely transparent, y’all know who we are; we’re based here. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, I don’t want to pollute the atmosphere and I don’t want one penny from it.”
Jury President Jim Bonsall said while he appreciated Madden’s thoughts, he said the jury may have acted too quickly.
“Personally, I think we acted hastily to do the resolution when we did, but for the same reason, I would not want to vote on that today,” he said. “I’ve developed my own opinion about this thing because of the facts that I’ve seen, the cries that I’ve heard by the people most effected. I’m not saying we did the wrong thing, but I’m saying we acted too soon.”
He encouraged jurors to think about the proposal and the request to make an informed decision on the matter.
Rebecca Sherrard, a Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group member, asked the jury to allow them to set up a meeting with them to bring in their own experts to “tell the other side of the story.”
“It’s only fair that you hear both sides,” she said. “I encourage you to come to the regular CAG meeting. I think there are many, many questions that have not been answered with this. This is not a Doyline, Louisiana, issue. It’s not a Webster Parish issue. If those emissions are not what they are supposed to be, over the next few years, it will become a northwest Louisiana issue and maybe farther than that.”
A meeting date or time has not yet been determined.
In other Camp Minden news, the newly formed environmental cleanup Camp Minden steering committee met Tuesday morning for the first time. Chairman Dustin Moseley, Jury District 12, said the committee was formed to discuss objectives for the committee and learn the status of Camp Minden as a Superfund site and the level of contamination.
“I have a lot of questions about Camp Minden, how it’s classified on the Superfund,” he said. “They have a 0 to 50 scale to classify how contaminated it is. I’ve never had it explained to me how Camp Minden receives its classification. We need to look into that and how they come up with it.”
Moseley said he wanted to have an EPA representative talk to the jury about contaminants at Camp Minden.
Bonsall said he wants to separate fact from fiction regarding Camp Minden.
“To find out a starting place, that’s what this is about,” he said.