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Activists petition Louisiana environmental regulators to be transparent about M6 disposal method

Kate Archer Kent

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.

Frances Kelley, an organizer with Louisiana Progress Action, clutched reams of paper as she told reporters that her group, and a growing number of environmental watchdogs, seek transparency and cooperation among government agencies and the military in how to safely dispose of millions of pounds of abandoned explosives.

“What we’re asking is that they make all of the bids public that have been put forward for the cleanup, including the ones that are not for the open burn method because citizens deserve to know what all the options are. This needs to be a transparent process,” Kelley said.

Over the past two weeks, more than 9,000 people have signed on to a Facebook group in opposition of an open tray burn of M6. Sheila McCormick, a retired Caddo Parish teacher, says her family members who live in Minden are scared about their health and wellbeing. But, she says, the deteriorating state of the chemicals – a mounting problem dating back to the 1980s -- should alarm people well beyond Webster Parish.

“Not only is it a Minden problem, it is a problem for 100 miles or more around here. It’s not just a problem for children and parents, it’s a problem for hunters and fishermen. It’s really going to devastate,” McCormick said.

The environmentalists say the Army has approved at least five other ways to dispose of M6 instead of an open burn. A DEQ agent received the petition from Kelley and said his agency is glad to receive public input. He said he had no comment and would forward the petition to personnel in Baton Rouge.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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