CAMP MINDEN, LA (KSLA) - ?
Government leaders and the public learned details of exactly how improperly-stored explosives will be disposed of at Camp Minden during a community meeting Tuesday night from contractors selected to do the work.
"We're expecting this one to be different from the earlier ones in that the Louisiana National Guard is actually sponsoring it to introduce the contractor ESI [Explosive Service International] which is a Louisiana based operation and I think we're going to hear a lot of good news," Ron Hagar with the Citizens Advisory Group said prior to the meeting.
Representatives from Louisiana-based contractor Explosive Service International (ESI) were on hand to explain the process of destructing the M6 propellant and Clean Burning Igniter (CBI) left behind at Camp Minden by Explo Systems, Inc.
"You are going to be safe, I promise you we are not going to have an accident out here," said ESI Vice President Bob Hayes.
"Without the community we wouldn't be at the point where we are tonight," said Ron Curry, EPA region 6 regional administrator.
A selection committee picked the contractor to remove the explosives.
"The selection committee has come up with a company with so much experience in explosives, zero incidents. All over the world, they deal with explosives," said National Guard spokesman Col. Pete Schneider.
ESI will be partnering with Utah-based El Dorado Engineering, who will provide the "Contained Burn Chamber" that will transform the propellant into water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
"When people leave here today, they are going to be very comfortable with what they see here," said Col. Schneider.
While the burning is happening, the contractors explained they will be a closely watching the quality of the air, ground water and surface water.
"We will always maintain a close monitoring of the process," said Curry. "We owe that to the public, we believe the contractor also feels the same sense of responsibility to the public."
The explosives ended up at Camp Minden when Explo was leasing space at the National Guard installation with a contract to separate military propellant bags and resell the components.
An explosion in 2012 led to the discovery of some 15 million pounds of the potentially explosive material, which becomes more unstable over time.
A previous plan to dispose of the material using an open-tray burn process was scrapped after public outcry.
In early May, the EPA signed off on the closed-burn method to be conducted by ESI, which has already already been used to destroy M6 with a high success rate in Belgium and will destroy virtually all of that old Cold War era propellant.