By 1st Lt. Rebekah Malone, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Louisiana National Guard
Explosive Service International has successfully conducted the first test burn of 88 pounds of M6 propellant at the newly constructed contained burn chamber at Camp Minden.
“The strength of the Louisiana National Guard comes from the relationships with our communities,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general for the LANG. “What we have accomplished together is more than beginning to safely dispose of M6. It is a testament to the resilience of our communities, the ability to communicate and work together for the betterment of our state. This is an incredible feat.”
Together with numerous partners including the Environmental Protection Agency, local and state officials from Bossier and Webster parishes and most importantly the community, the largest thermal treatment unit in the world with the most advanced pollution abatement system began its work to dispose of 15 million pounds of M6 propellant and Clean Burning Igniter.
“’Over a year ago, we engaged the community to find an alternative method to dispose of M6 and other materials at Camp Minden in Louisiana,” said Ron Curry, EPA Region 6 administrator. “Today, we have achieved another milestone and kept another promise that resulted from listening to the community and local leaders.”
Over the next 30 days, the equipment will be tested as ESI ramps up production from the small 10 percent load that was burned today to burning full capacity loads of more than 800 pounds. In mid-May, a comprehensive performance test on stack emissions will be conducted over seven days. A shutdown will occur for several weeks to wait on the partial SVOC analytical results report. Full production will begin in the first part of June on a 24-hour basis. ESI expects to complete the destruction process in approximately 12 months, followed by three months of demobilization and site restoration.
Jason Poe, vice-president of ESI said of the 35 employees working on this project, approximately 20 are local hires from Bossier and Webster parishes.
“We’re finally here with the most advanced disposal unit in the world,” said Poe, vice-president. “We’re very proud of our staff to include the local hires form Bossier and Webster parishes. We are looking forward to the safe and successful resolution of this crisis for the communities of north Louisiana.”
More than 4,000 engineering design hours were completed in only a few short months. Construction of the facility typically requires 18-24 months but was achieved in only eight months by simultaneously constructing components off-site. Work crews had to be doubled to recover from rain delays and even extra crew members brought on board.
In January, the burn chamber made a 127-mile trip by truck and trailer in Oklahoma to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa where it was shipped to Louisiana. The burn chamber arrived at the Port of Natchitoches on Feb. 2, then departed by truck Feb. 8, for the 80-mile journey to Camp Minden.
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 … 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.
For more information on monitoring, please visit: http://www.esicampminden.com