EPA considers other methods of disposal for M6

EPA considers other methods of disposal for M6

Demands for more information about the risks posed by plans to burn millions of pounds of explosive powder abandoned at Camp Minden have resulted in a delay in plans to burn the material.

Frustrated over what they consider a lack of communication by the Environmental Protection Agency, parish and state officials held a closed-door meeting on the campus of LSU Shreveport on Tuesday.

It was the culmination of a grass roots effort to put a stop to the government's plan to openly burn millions of pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden.

Worried about health issues, local and state leaders are asking the Environmental Protection Agency for proof that it's safe. 

The explosive material was left by the now bankrupt company Explo Systems, Inc., after it was found improperly stored on the grounds of Camp Minden back in late 2012. Since that time, state and federal officials have been trying to find a way to get rid of it.      

When the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would burn 15 million pounds of the explosive material, a grass roots effort against the method called open burning.

Local leaders began to listen, and under pressure from their constituents, they began asking some tough questions to the EPA. 

"They are convinced this is below any dangerous toxic levels. We need to see all of the science, we need to see what they base that on," said U.S. Senator David Vitter. 

Legislators called a meeting with the EPA demanding to see the evidence that indicates it's a safe method.

The meeting was at first seen as a failure, with representatives from the EPA leaving the meeting in a hurry, but conceding they could do a better job communicating. And communicating is exactly what they began to do. 

"I was a bit surprised to have the EPA come in there and go from, 'It's my way or the highway,' to 'Hey guys, let's talk,'" said Representative Gene Reynolds. 

He says not long after, the EPA sent him a letter that showed promise, a promise to consider other methods and a 90-day delay. 

When asked about the letter, the EPA sent us an email stating that "After our meeting hosted by Representative Reynolds and other elected officials it was clear that the community needed us to focus on removing barriers to looking at other options." 

"The pressure is going to be now on the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the National Guard to choose a method to get rid of the M6," said Reynolds. 

And that's a lot of pressure, considering this one point on which nobody disagrees: the longer the M6 sits, the more potentially unstable it becomes. 

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