U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) today announced that the Department of the Army has committed in writing to immediately move forward with the final clean-up agreement to dispose of abandoned munitions at Camp Minden and will pay for 100% of costs associated with the contained burn.
Last week, Vitter urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with the final agreement after the EPA stalled the clean-up process by requiring additional funding to cover undisclosed oversight costs. Following Vitter’s letter, the EPA agreed to move forward pending this commitment from the Army.
“This commitment from the Army will finally allow us to take the next step toward cleaning up Camp Minden once and for all,” Vitter said. “Folks around the Camp Minden community can’t wait any longer to clean up this mess. The explosive material is getting more dangerous the longer it’s neglected, and this process has taken long enough. I’m making sure the Army and the EPA keep to their word, and we’ll keep pushing until the clean-up is finally resolved.”
Earlier this week, Vitter toured Camp Minden and received an update on the clean-up process from General Glenn Curtis. Vitter has been working to address the abandoned explosives and propellant stored on the grounds of Camp Minden since 2013.
Previously Vitter blocked the nomination of Alissa M. Starzak to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army until the Army agreed to work with the Department of Justice and the EPA to provide federal funds to address the abandoned explosives.
Vitter also included language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 to ensure that the Camp Minden explosives cleanup agreement moves forward. Vitter has personally raised the issue with the head of the EPA, Administrator Gina McCarthy and the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ray Odierno.
In 2012, Louisiana State Police discovered abandoned M6 propellant that had been improperly stored by defense contractor Explo Systems. The Department of Defense was reluctant to agree that they had necessary authority to get rid of the explosives.
After intervention from Vitter and Congressman John Fleming (R-La.), the Army sent their Explosives Safety Board to evaluate and provide recommendations. Vitter started working with the relevant Department offices in early 2013 for a solution and has been following up routinely with calls, letters, and meetings.
Vitter originally raised questions over the open-burn method in October 2014 and was involved in bringing involved parties together to ensure that an alternative disposal process was selected to the open burn.