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Second EPA workshop set for Thursday

by Minden Press-Herald

The Environmental Protection Agency will host the second in a two-part series of educational workshops as officials review the recommended disposal method of millions of pounds of M6 propellant stored at Camp Minden.

This second workshop set for Thursday, April 23, will be at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 9961 Highway 80, just outside of Camp Minden. The meeting will take place from 6 until 8 p.m.

David Gray, director of external affairs for EPA Region 6, says the workshops are educational in nature as well as a forum for feedback.

“Our EPA-sponsored workshops are designed to provide interested citizens with educational information as well as an opportunity for feedback,” he said. “Last week the workshop was on air monitoring and sampling and this week the workshop is about preparedness – both important topics as we look toward the disposal of materials at Camp Minden. We are looking to add future workshops based on the interest expressed by attendees.”

The workshop is to inform the public about “response preparedness, including how local officials will notify you if an incident occurs, who will respond, and some basic actions you should be prepared to take to protect your family,” according to a news release.

“This is not a formal meeting,” EPA officials say in the release. “You will have the opportunity to learn from and talk directly with agency representatives in an informal setting. We welcome your participation.”

EPA officials are in the process of reviewing a method of disposal for nearly 16 million pounds of M6 propellant and another several thousand pounds of clean burning igniter stored at Camp Minden.

Camp Minden is designated as a Superfund site, as defined by the EPA is, “an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people.”

In October 2012, an explosion at Camp Minden brought attention to the alleged gross negligence of Explo Systems Inc., a company designed to take in and dispose of discarded munitions.

Following an investigation by the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Military Department and other agencies, seven individuals with or affiliated with the company were arrested and face various charges.

Earlier this year, a dialogue committee was formed in the wake of the decision by the U.S.Army to use the open burn method of disposal to destroy the improperly stored propellant. The dialogue committee, sponsored by the EPA, was made up of scientists, elected officials and concerned citizens that discussed alternative methods of disposal.

Most recently, Dialogue Committee member and concerned citizen Ron Hagar is heading up the formation of the Citizens Advisory Group that will help oversee the remediation of the M6 from beginning to end. That committee will be similar in makeup to the dialogue committee.

For anyone who would like to attend the CAG meetings, they are at 6:30 p.m., the second Monday of every month in the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church of Doyline.

For specific needs or questions, contact Jason T. McKinney, U.S. EPA community involvement coordinator at 1-800-533-3508, toll free, or 214-665-8132, direct.

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