Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 7:17 pm
Explosions used to be no big deal for residents of sleepy rural towns in north Louisiana's piney woods near the Arkansas border. Blasts meant jobs.
The Army's Camp Minden was the site of a former ammunition factory built during World War II. The factory closed in the 1990s. Still, the place is littered with millions of pounds of leftover artillery waste.
The stuff in question is called M6, a toxic propellant in grenades and artillery rounds. The Army doesn't use it anymore, and tons of M6 are stored in bunkers at Camp Minden.
Opponents of a plan to burn 15 million pounds of M6 artillery propellant in storage at Camp Minden say several much safer alternatives should be considered.
State Rep. Gene Reynolds of Minden was among speakers in a teleconference Thursday assembled by the activist group Louisiana Progress Action.
Reynolds is meeting with munitions experts at the Pentagon on Friday. He wants to call a joint meeting of the state’s Homeland Security oversight committee to allow federal and state agencies and the military to testify under oath about the status of the explosives.
Activists calling for an immediate safe disposal of M6 explosives at Camp Minden in Webster Parish lodged an official complaint with the state Wednesday.
A group delivered more than 3,600 signatures to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s Northwest Regional office in Shreveport. They also delivered copies to the local offices of Louisiana’s congressional delegation.
State police say that just over 5.5 million pounds of explosive propellant has been moved at the northwestern Louisiana industrial site where it was found to be improperly stored several weeks ago.
On Thursday, crews moved about 93,600 pounds of the material, bringing the total safely moved and stored to around 5.5 million. Officials estimated that roughly 6 million pounds was found at the site of an explosives recycler at Camp Minden in Webster Parish.