Camp Minden, LA (KMSS) — When Explo filed bankruptcy in 2013, it left the federal government with a 15.6 million pound problem. That’s how much M-6 propellant Explo had been storing at Camp Minden.
The explosives are now safely stored in bunkers, but are a threat because of the shelf life of M-6. Eventually, M-6 sets itself on fire. That’s why David Madden of Madden construction says time is of the essence, “Not to be an alarmist, you could have one today, you could have one next week, no one knows. Not doing anything, if you say just let’s just wait and see what happens, it's going to take care of itself, because it’s going to blow itself up."
Nobody wants another explosion, so state and federal officials have been working up a plan to get rid of the M-6. So far, there are two options. The first is an open burn. That’s where the propellant is simply set on fire in a controlled manner. While this is one possibility, Madden says it isn’t the best. "There can't be a rain chance greater than 40%, if the winds are greater than 15 miles per hour you can't burn." Already, on an average year, that would mean burning couldn’t be done for about a third of the year. That could mean that it could take up to 3 years to destroy all of the M-6.
Madden Construction has invented a special incinerator for the M-6. That incinerator would take only 9 months to destroy all of the propellant. Since the burning is done in a controlled unit, the outside weather doesn’t factor into the burning.
Not only would the incinerator destroy the M-6 sooner, it would also cost less to complete the process. That’s one reason Senator Robert Adley supports the incinerator. “In the past there's been some objection over saying the cost was about 30 million dollars to get rid of it. This is almost half that cost." There’s also no question in Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton’s mind which process he prefers, "I think it needs to be burned in this facility here, in this prototype. We all witnessed it, it had very little smoke, and very little smell to it."
The incinerator is still waiting EPA approval, but officials are hopefully the burning can start in just a few months.