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EPA announces Camp Minden remedy can move forward

Courtesy of Minden Press-Herald

DALLAS –The Environmental Protection Agency has completed their technical review Friday of the new proposed contained burn process to dispose of the munitions supporting alternative efforts instead of open burn for disposal.

The EPA, in accordance with provisions of the Camp Minden Administrative Order, notified the Louisiana Military Department (LMD) that the Agency will not exercise its right to disapprove any or all contractors and/or subcontractors outlined in the state’s April 14 recommendation for the alternative disposal of materials at Camp Minden.

The EPA said it is quickly working to conclude efforts necessary in helping the state finalize its plans.

“This action is another important next step in fulfilling our promise to the community to clear the way for an alternative technology to dispose of the materials abandoned by Explo and left deteriorating at the site,” said Ron Curry, EPA regional administrator. “We are extremely pleased that the state carefully considered the Dialogue Committee’s input in their review of vendors and final recommendation.”

LMD recommended Explosive Service International (ESI) and their Contained Burn method of disposal be utilized for the disposal of the approximately 15 million pounds of M6 Propellant and 320,000 pounds Clean Burning Igniter (CBI). The recommendation includes accepting the advanced air pollution control options to maximize safety and flexibility in handling the rapidly decomposing materials and deteriorating storage and packaging materials. The EPA completed an extensive review of the state’s recommendation with the safety of the public as our most important consideration. The next deadline requires LMD to submit detailed work plans for conducing the disposal 30 days after they issue a notice to proceed or contract award whichever is earlier.

“This is a positive development and should get us closer to disposing of the dangerous explosive material at Camp Minden” said Senator David Vitter, R-La.  “I’m still very confident that the abandoned explosives will be disposed of in a way that fully addresses the health and safety concerns, as well as cleaning up  this mess as quickly as possible. I’ll continue aggressively encouraging the Army to adopt a contained burn process.”

On March 18, EPA signed an amended action memo that allowed alternative technologies to be considered in disposing of the materials at the site. The amendment cleared the way for the Louisiana Military Department to review quotes for alternative methods and select a company to dispose of the M6 and CBI. Earlier in March, the Dialogue Committee participant’s input regarding key attributes to a successful cleanup and identification of technologies that show promise for addressing the problem at Camp Minden were released in a public report. The report was the result of a tremendous commitment by the community to seek alternative solutions to address the materials at Camp Minden. It represented the culmination of endless hours of work, tireless study and research, and the incredible understanding and knowledge of the participants.

Louisiana Progress Action released the following statement via email regarding the decision:

“Louisiana Progress Action will continue to call for the safest solution to be implemented at Camp Minden to destroy the 15 million pounds of M6 propellant.  It is a huge victory that there will be no open burn at Camp Minden, but it is unconscionable for the U.S. Army to break its promise to citizens by denying the EPA’s request to use their Supercritical Water Oxidation units. While incineration is safer than an open burn, there is no reason why the U.S. Army should refuse to honor its public commitment to let Camp Minden have the safest solution…Louisiana Progress Action has serious concerns about whether an incinerator will be able to meet the strict emissions standards set by the Dialogue Committee given that most hazardous waste incinerators operating in the United States are currently in serious violation of the EPA’s regulations.”

As work continues by LMD to complete contracting requirements for an alternative technology to dispose of material at Camp Minden, we are continuing to develop the necessary plans to support the state’s efforts. Last month, EPA sought public feedback on a draft baseline sampling plan and the final plan is available on the EPA website at http://www2.epa.gov/la/camp-minden. Sampling field activities began this week and will continue for 5 to 6 weeks.

On April 9, EPA held the first in a series of educational workshops in the community on environmental sampling and monitoring. On April 23, EPA hosted another educational workshop on preparedness. A copy of the workshop materials is available on the website at http://www2.epa.gov/la/camp-minden .  Additional workshops are being planned at the request of participants.

Public safety continues to be our first consideration. EPA and LMD continues to closely monitor on-site conditions. EPA will continue to inform the public of any updated information regarding the risk posed by the materials abandoned at Camp Minden. The most recent Department of Army technical assistance visit (TAV) of the CBI and M6 propellant was completed from March 9 to 11, 2015. On Friday, March 20, 2015, EPA and LMD received a copy of the TAV report. A copy of the full March report is available at http://www2.epa.gov/la/camp-minden-reference-documents.

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