CAMP MINDEN, LA (KSLA) - Since open-tray burning looks 'off the table' for disposing of 15 million pounds of M6 artillery propellant at Camp Minden, there are 6 U.S. Army approved options still available.
Those options range from various forms of detonation, to water or chemical treatments. But which one is right for this situation, involving Cold War era propellant, described as a 'ticking time bomb' if not handled soon.
Jane Williams of the Sierra Club spoke about those various options during the first Minden Dialogue Committee meeting, held on Thursday, February 12. "They are clearly available, they are feasible, they have been permitted, they have been developed. And you know, we're saying, 'let's not use technology from 25-years ago. Let's use better technology," explained Williams.
The first 3 options blow up the material inside detonation chambers. Option 1 uses automated remote-controlled machinery designed to withstand repeated, large detonations. Option 2 heats the propellant until it breaks down or detonates. Option 3, nicknamed DAVINCH, detonates the propellant inside a vacuum, reducing noise, vibration and blast pressure.
Then there's Option 4: "There's supercritical water oxidation," continued Williams. That process uses super-pressurized water to ramp up the oxidation process, which pulls apart the dangerous chemicals.
As for Option 5: "There's hydrolysis, which was the technology that the Department of Defense just used to destroy the Syrian chemical weapons, which was widely covered in the press," added Williams. Last summer, The U.S. government cargo ship Cape Ray neutralized Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, while in the Mediterranean Sea, using mobile hydrolysis units aboard the ship.
Meanwhile, Option 6 uses humic acid to break down the propellant, leaving the neutralized material high in phosphorus, which can then be recycled and sold as a fertilizer.
Williams says Options 2 & 4 have the added benefit of already having been permitted in the state of Louisiana. Now it's up to the Minden Dialogue Committee to choose the best option for the situation at Camp Minden. That decision is expected to come by the time of the final meeting on March 10.