100+ gather to learn about Camp Minden burn chamber

100+ gather to learn about Camp Minden burn chamber

MINDEN, LA (KSLA) - About 120 people gathered Thursday evening to learn more about the future of the burn chamber at Camp Minden.

ESI used it to dispose of 15 million pounds of explosives at the former Explo installation.

Now some people want the burn chamber to remain in operation there, bringing with it dozens of jobs.

Others fear its continued presence at Camp Minden will pose a threat to them, lower their property values and pollute the environment.

"In my opinion, it's going to be like it's always been out there since 1940," Sibley resident Schelley Francis said. "I mean, it's something that we've learned to live with and will adapt to it."

Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce officials said they convened the gathering Thursday evening to get the facts out to the public instead of what they described as scare tactics.

"The chamber has been hearing all kinds of rumors and maybe innuendos that we didn't feel were right," chamber board member Pam Bloxom said. "And we just wanted to get the facts on the table for everyone to make their own decision based on the facts."

Of those who showed up to listen and ask questions of ESI officials, most said they are for keeping the burn chamber.

ESI officials said the company would increase its work force there to 130 in 18 months with an annual payroll of $10 million to $12 million is the burn chamber remains.

Chamber officials cited the local unemployment rate as being 9.4 percent as of the end of 2016. By comparison, they said, the state jobless rate was 6.2 percent and the national rate was 4.6 percent.

Chamber officials also provided a list of two dozen businesses no longer in Webster Parish that ends with the phrase "... and many others not listed."

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