Home News-Free Lawmakers to poll residents on future of burn chamber

Lawmakers to poll residents on future of burn chamber

ESI's contained burn unit at Camp Minden. (Courtesy of Minden Press-Herald)
Michelle Bates

Legislators will soon be conducting a survey on whether the contained burn chamber at Camp Minden should stay.

Rep. Gene Reynolds, District 10, said he and Sen. Ryan Gatti, District 36, have been tasked with heading up the poll.

“I’m working with a pollster now,” Reynolds said. “It’s two different polling groups, and I want a decent poll, one that’s reliable.”

The poll radius will be about 30 miles, which will include Minden and Haughton as well as outlying areas. It will be done via cell phone, internet and landlines. Reynolds is asking citizens to answer their phones during the polling as it is important to get an accurate poll.

The poll will be paid for from campaign funds, he said.

“Whatever the poll comes out to be, I’m going to sit down with Gov. John Bel Edwards and different ones, and I’ve said all along that whatever the people want to do is what I’m going to do,” he said. “If the people want to keep it, we’ll try to keep it, and if people don’t want it, that will be my recommendation to the governor.”

Gatti, who represented the people against Explo in a class action suit, said he is aware of the dangers a business like this brings with it. He said he’s stated very early on in the debates he trusts the Citizens Advisory Group to speak for the people.

“I’m very concerned the state does not have the manpower, resources or revenue to monitor a large scale business like this one and ensure the public’s safety,” he said. “We will be running a poll very soon to confirm the will of the public on this issue. Those results will be shared with the public, and we hope to get the results within the next few weeks.”

In January, the Citizens Advisory Group asked legislators to conduct the poll to give citizens a voice in whether the contained burn chamber, owned and operated by Explosive Service International to dispose of millions of pounds of M6 propellant discovered improperly stored at Camp Minden, should stay or go.

Opponents of the burn chamber staying say even though the pollution abatement system connected to the chamber is doing what it was designed to do, the contract between the state and ESI clearly states the chamber is to be dismantled and the property returned to its natural state.

Proponents say ESI could create double the jobs there now, from 35 temporary ones to 70 to 100 permanent jobs. ESI touts the chamber as being the largest and cleanest contained burn chamber in the world.

Reynolds said the poll should be conducted within a week or two.

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