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CONCERNED CITIZENS UNITED IN APPROVAL OF DISPOSAL METHOD
Contained Burn system developed by Eldorado Engineering chosen
MINDEN, LA—May 13, 2015— “People stood united to protect this place. And officials paid attention,” said Dolores Blalock, a communications professor from California State University, who now lives on her family farm in Saline, Louisiana. Ms. Blalock sounded the alarm about the order to open burn the largest stockpile of M6 propellant in U.S. history at Camp Minden. She, along with other concerned citizens, united in December 2014 and began the fight to stop the open burn and change the method of disposal. “We had support nationally from many groups. Politicians stood up to do the right thing. Great media coverage kept people informed. Now we can all breathe easier. We have won that right.”
On the heels of the announcement this week that the chosen method would be contained burn, members of the Concerned Citizens Group and other guests met Monday night at The First Baptist Church in Doyline, Louisiana to celebrate their recent victory. They officially welcomed the newly formed Citizens Advisory Group for Camp Minden. The group was set up to monitor the removal of the M6 military waste at Camp Minden while serving in an advisory capacity to the Environmental Protection Agency. Colonel Ron Stuckey of the Louisiana National Guard and agents of the EPA joined members of CAG and core members of the Concerned Citizens Group who have moved their efforts from “fight mode” to “follow through.”
Those in attendance included Dr. Brian Salvatore, Mickey Walsh, Melissa Downer, Rick Broussard, Retired U.S. Colonel Sam Mims, Rebecca Schelley-Sherrard, Ron Hagar, Alice Bond, Frances Kelley, Annetta Garner, Kerry McNamara, Chris Broussard, as well as other residents from Doyline and surrounding communities. Special guests included David Madden and John Madden who had previously withdrawn their original bid for incineration due to “moral reasons” when they discovered that another company had technology they felt was superior to their own. David Madden explained the process of the contained burn system and applauded the group for having stopped the burn. “Because of you, they’re going to create the world’s best, cleanest, most efficient and safest air scrubbing system that man can build,” he said. “NASA can’t build one better than the one you all specified. Looking from the engineering and how it works, I can go to sleep tonight, tomorrow, next week, and I’m not worried about it. [The EPA is] not going to let somebody sneak up on us and pull the wool over our eyes. I’m proud of y’all. You went through the process and saved our environment.”
“This contained burned incinerator has an advanced pollution abatement system that ranks it among the world’s most technologically advanced incinerators,” adds Dr. Brian Salvatore, professor of Chemistry at LSUS. “I am comfortable with the Louisiana Military Department’s selection and agree with the EPA’s decision to move forward with it. I also support the stringent emissions monitoring system being implemented to make sure this incinerator is safely operated at its optimal capacity. The NOx scrubber recommended by the EPA for the Camp Minden contained burn system is actually even better than the standard one described by David Madden. This one will use SCR (selective catalytic reduction),” Dr. Salvatore explains.
In response to intense citizen opposition to the open burn disposal of M6 explosive stored at Camp Minden, the EPA sponsored the formation of a Dialogue Committee whose function was to investigate and propose safe alternative solutions to the open burn. The dialogue process resulted in the Louisiana Military Department recommending and the EPA accepting the contained burn system developed by Eldorado Engineering. This selection was the direct result of actions by the Concerned Citizens Against the Open Burn, the Dialogue Process, the LMD, the U.S. Army and the EPA. “It is now time to move forward expeditiously, removing any and all obstacles and hindrances to implementation, to ensure that the selected proposal performs as advertised,” remarked retired Col. Samuel Mims and local minister. “We must unite, focus on the now, forget the could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve, and work to get this disposal going now, today, soonest. Anything else is a direct rebuff to the tremendous achievement thus far! May God grant it to be so done.”
While Dr. Robert Flournoy was not able to attend the meeting, the environmental activist and toxicologist sent a statement of support to the group. Knowing that the EPA had initiated baseline monitoring of the air, soil and water, Dr. Flournoy supported their efforts. “Monitoring air, water and soil will be necessary not only to obtain background levels before the process begins, but to insure that [local] areas are not impacted from the contained incineration burn, thus, safeguarding the residents, pets and the environment. I am very pleased that EPA Region 6 Dallas has selected to use an air scrubber, which will help remove more particulates from release into the atmosphere. They are being very cautious not to impact the citizenry in harmful ways. Their selection should please most folks.”
The two-hour meeting ended with the group recognizing that they must show a united front and continue to work with the agencies and the National Guard for the quickest and most efficient means of disposal. It was estimated that once the contractor was named and the work plan approved, construction on the contained burn unit could start before the end of 2015.
Minden Mayor Tommy Davis and District 10 State Representative Gene Reynolds were among the first of the elected officials to publicly object to the open burn. Both have indicated their support of the newly approved disposal method. “I am pleased with the selection process for eliminating the M6 at Camp Minden. I feel the Concerned Citizens Group will see to it that all the proper mechanisms will be put in place to insure the safest possible outcome,” said Davis. Reynolds reiterated with a strong, “Victory is ours! I am very pleased with the progress that has been made due to the determination of our citizens. I will continue working with the state and federal agencies involved to ensure we stay on track.”
Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton and Webster’s Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director John Stanley, who both hold the responsibility for parish emergency response and planning, have agreed that this selection was a wise one. “We are very pleased and believe the selected method to be among the safest, most advanced, expedient, and reliable technologies we reviewed during the Dialogue Committee process. It hit all of the marks for both environmental and worker safety,” explained Stanley. Sheriff Sexton followed, “I am very proud of our citizens for effecting change for the betterment of our communities!”
While the EPA is planning its own public meetings in the near future to further inform citizens of the method, process, and situational status, the Citizens Advisory Group led by Ron Hagar and a 20-member board will continue to meet monthly on the second Monday of each month at the First Baptist Church of Doyline. Elected officials and other concerned citizens are invited to join and attend the monthly meetings. For more information about the Citizens Advisory, contact Ron Hagar at 318-525-2324 or by email to email@example.com.
“Communities are counting on the Camp Minden CAG to keep everyone well informed about the completion of the contract, workplans, construction of, and operation of the disposal process and facility. It will verify that the right afterburner, monitors and abatement system are established and properly utilized. CAG will help oversee the monitoring of the operations to keep our air, soil and water clean and healthy,” explained Ron Hagar of the CAG. “We welcome your participation in this important part of the process.”