Following a report Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker would welcome Explosive Service International with the contained burn chamber at Camp Minden, Walker released a statement saying the city can’t afford it and there is no room for it.
In a Haughton meeting Tuesday, Dr. Robert Flournoy said Walker would welcome the chamber into Ruston.
On Wednesday, Walker confirmed he said something about it in a recent conversation, but it was a private comment between friends.
“Bob Flournoy and I are good friends,” he said. “Bob and I were sitting there talking about the burn chamber, and my comment was a lot of ‘ifs,’ but wherever it ends up, it will be an economic boom for whatever city or parish it’s in.
“Ruston could never take it, because, one, we don’t have the land, and two, the federal government, or whoever owns it, is not going to give it away and I sure wouldn’t pay for it,” he continued. “It was just an off the cuff remark between friends talking about what was going on.”
Walker went on to say the city does not have the finances to bring that type of business to the area, and while he’s been told it’s safe, he said he can’t say that for sure.
“I don’t know that it’s 100 percent safe, and I wouldn’t take anything that hasn’t been proven to me to be 100 percent safe for our citizens,” he said. “It was all just two guys talking about what it does. There’s lots of companies out there that are going to be spending big bucks trying to burn up stuff like that’s being burned in Minden now.”
ESI Vice President Jason Poe said there was no plan to move the burn chamber to Ruston and no discussion has taken place between them.
“I agree that it would have an economic impact on a community, however, I would like that community to be the Minden community where the current employees live,” Poe said.
Poe said ESI’s focus is completing the safe disposal of the M6 propellant improperly stored at Camp Minden by Explo Systems.
To date, 14.8 million pounds of M6 have been destroyed.