WASHINGTON, D.C. (KSLA) - The fight to rid Camp Minden of the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant left behind by the now bankrupt Explo is being fought in Washington D.C.
A meeting was held at U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu's office Thursday that included Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-La., from Bossier City, several local officials and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army.
"So our office has taken this as a top priority," Landrieu said.
The propellant, designated by the EPA as an "imminent danger," was left behind at Camp Minden in 2012 and is still there. Legislators who attended the meeting on Thursday say it won't be for long now that the Army has accepted responsibility and has its marching orders from the EPA.
Two years ago the material was found to be improperly stored, which resulted in a criminal investigation and several arrests.
State legislators, like Thompson, were tasked with removing the materials and have laid blame squarely on the U.S. Army.
The cost for cleanup is estimated to be $23 million.
"Well, for the first time there seems to be progress moving forward regarding recognition of some responsibility on behalf of the Army. That has not been the case so far," Thompson said.
He has argued this point in Baton Rouge and believes the feds involvement adds some leverage.
"The responsible party being the federal government, as a federally-elected official, she [Landrieu] has the ability to, along with Senator Vitter and Congressman Fleming, to put pressure where pressure can be brought to bear to make sure they move forward," Thompson said.
At Landrieu's urging, the Army attended Thursday's meeting at her office in Washington D.C along with Thompson.
He believes this is a good sign.
"Now they haven't discussed that complete role. I believe it's going to be a fairly significant role in putting up the money," Landrieu said.
And late Thursday afternoon the EPA released an emailed letter to KSLA News 12 that was sent to the Army entitled "Final Determination".
In it the EPA tells the Army that it contributed to this problem with a lack of oversight and ordered the Army to eliminate the 15 million pounds of propellant, despite the Army's prior objections to the initial letter with the same notice- which was sent back in March.
According to Landrieu's office, the Army only has until July 26 to comply with the order.