Burn chamber arrives at Camp Minden

Burn chamber arrives at Camp Minden
The burn chamber arrived at Camp Minden in February of 2016 as part of a plan to dispose of millions of pounds of explosive materials. (Source: Louisiana State Police)
(Source: Bossier sheriff's office)
(Source: Bossier sheriff's office)
The burn chamber transport's final leg. (Sources: Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development; Google Maps)
The burn chamber transport's final leg. (Sources: Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development; Google Maps)
(Source: Louisiana State Police)
(Source: Louisiana State Police)

BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - After getting off to a rough start Thursday, the burn chamber finally made it to its destination at Camp Minden.

A mechanical issue temporarily sidelined the massive burn chamber and officials weren't sure it would arrive by Thursday afternoon.

The slow-moving transport was moved by 1 truck that pulls the load and another that pushes it. The issue was with the vehicle that was pulling the load, said Trooper First Class Matt Harris, of state police Troop G.

After spending Wednesday night parked along Louisiana Highway 157 just south of Haughton, the transport embarked on the final leg of its journey sometime after 9 a.m. Thursday to allow for school transportation in the area. The planned route continued on Hwy. 157 then turned right onto Louisiana Highway 3227 then left onto Louisiana Highway 164 at Doyline. The transport then turned right onto U.S. Highway 80.

The transport also has meant disruptions in electrical service for about 6,000 AEP/SWEPCO customers at different times along its way. Utility crews had to disconnect and reconnect electric wires that spanned the route at 452 places. Forty-seven of the crossings were three-phase feeder circuits, making the move more complex and impacted more customers.

Two AEP/SWEPCO supervisors, 6 troublemen and 3 line crews had to travel with the load to work to minimize disruptions to the utility's customers.

As for traffic flow, Highway 71 reopened to travel Wednesday after the large burn chamber turned onto Louisiana Highway 527 that morning. North and southbound traffic on Highway 71 in the Taylortown area had been closed.

The large load then used Louisiana Highway 527 to head east to LA 157.

A significant amount of progress was made Tuesday, state police said.

The burn chamber made it to its target location in Elm Grove and parked there Tuesday night.

The itinerary Wednesday was for the burn chamber to travel north around 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Highway 71 then turn east onto LA 527. This was expected to cause some road closures of 30 minutes to a few hours at that intersection starting around 9:30 a.m.

Also, while the transport was on LA 527 heading toward LA 157, no large commercial vehicles were allowed to turn onto westbound LA 527 from LA 157.

The transport was expected to turn from LA 527 north onto LA 157 around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, causing a closure at that intersection for about 45 minutes to a couple of hours.

Bossier Parish school buses transporting students home in Elm Grove, South Bossier and Haughton were advised they might have to take an alternate route, causing possible delays Wednesday afternoon, school officials said.

The trip included a 127-mile trip by truck and trailer in Oklahoma to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa where it was shipped to Louisiana and arrived at the Port of Natchitoches, Feb. 2. The burn chamber departed by truck on Monday, Feb. 8, for the 80-mile journey to Camp Minden.

"This has been a long journey over the last three years to get to this point – the arrival of the burn chamber onto Camp Minden. It is important to the Louisiana National Guard that we safely dispose of the M6 propellant, and today we got one step closer to seeing that happen," said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG.

The contained burn chamber will be used by Explosive Service International (ESI) to dispose of M6 propellant. The incinerator arrived at Camp Minden's old Gate 2 at the end of Goodwill Rd. Thursday afternoon.

Dean Schellhase, project manager at ESI, said this burn chamber is the largest in the world and the most technologically advanced explosives abatement system available on the market today to make the quality of air released well within regulatory standards.

"ESI has been a principle in the explosives industry for 28 years, almost 29 now, with an impeccable safety record. Safety is paramount in this project as well as anything, but also the environmental safety for what we are going to be doing here, making sure it's clean air going out to the communities and surrounding people," said Schellhase.

Burning of the explosives is expected to start in April. Once testing is complete and the chamber is fully operational, it will take just less than a year to destroy the explosives.

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