CAMP MINDEN, LA (KSLA) - The burn chamber at Camp Minden is slated to leave — and some are saying that they'll believe it when they see it.
Reluctant relief is the tempered response many people are feeling who live near Camp Minden after word that the burn chamber won't be staying permanently. It was believed that the burn chamber would not become a permanent fixture at Camp Minden in southwest Webster Parish. It's a big hit for the company that wanted to keep hazardous waste coming in, for jobs and revenue.
In a statement released by the Louisiana National Guard on Friday morning, April 21, it first officially announced the completed destruction of nearly 16 million pounds of Cold War era M6 artillery propellant and 320-thousand pounds of clean burning igniter.
The guard statement then thanked Explosive Service International — better known as E.S.I. — out of Baton Rouge, for a job well done.
And then the statement said quote: "The burn chamber will sit idle while the arrangements for its removal are finalized."
Nearby resident Alice Bond was among those who feared Camp Minden would quickly turn into a very busy hazardous waste disposal site. She won't soon forget her first reaction to word the burn chamber was leaving.
"Skeptical because, you know, I'm just hoping that it's true and not some kind of smoke screen," recalled Bond.
Bond's reaction is actually quite common. The people we talked to say that they just don't have a lot of trust in the process because they've been told so many different things over time.
That's one of the reasons why they insisted on getting it in writing that when E.S.I. was done the burn chamber would go.
Rebecca Shelley Sherrard has served as a member of the Citizens Advisory Group, and says she's happy with the job E.S.I. did. She now looks to a safer future at Camp Minden.
"I hope our government, our state government, never allows anything like this to ever happens again with no oversight," said Sherrard.
But Bond told us what it will take for her to feel genuinely relieved the burn chamber is in fact leaving.
"When that sucker leaves and it's gone, then I'll be okay with it," Bond said.
We have reached out several times today for a comment from E.S.I. But, we have not heard back from the company yet.