EPA Grants 90-Day Extension Of M6 Disposal Order

MINDEN, LA (AP) — The government has delayed for at least 90 days the disposal of artillery propellant at Camp Minden.

         The Times’ Vickie Welborn reports that Samuel Coleman, deputy regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, told Louisiana officials in a letter that the delay will help "remove any barriers to the state selecting an equal or more protective remedy at Camp Minden."

         Authorities say there are 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden. The M6 was abandoned on site by Explo Systems Inc. after it went bankrupt in 2013. An explosion in October 2012 in one of Explo's leased bunkers rattled homes, shattered windows 4 miles away in Minden and created a 7,000-foot mushroom cloud.

         Thousands of area residents have rallied in recent days in opposition to a proposed open tray burn of the M6 because of growing concern about long-term impact to health and environment. The open burn, rather than a closed incinerator or other contained method, was selected by the EPA and Army in October. The burn was planned for next month.

         Louisiana Department of Environment Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch said it appears the EPA is "attempting to abandon its responsibilities to the people of Louisiana as lead agency on the project."

         "The safe disposal of the M6 remains our top priority and we will carefully consider how best to proceed from this point," Hatch said.

         Coleman, who works of EPA's Region 6 in Dallas, said in the letter that "since the alternative selection will be conducted outside the enforcement settlement process, it affords the LDEQ and the Louisiana National Guard with the opportunity to include local elected officials and the community. We encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity."

         Coleman also said the EPA will support whatever actions are necessary to implement an alternative selected by DEQ and the National Guard.

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