Juror: Firm answers pending from delegates
As officials work toward a solution of Explo Systems Inc.'s explosive propellant surplus, the remaining 3.5 million pounds has been placed in approved storage facilities at Camp Minden.
"I was informed the remaining material has been moved from where it was being stored to approved locations on Camp Minden," said John Stanley, director of Webster Parish Homeland Security at Tuesday's Webster Parish Police Jury meeting.
"I feel like at some point the Army has to be held responsible," jury President Jim Bonsall said. "I do feel that everyone involved has done a great job to provide for public safety, and I know our elected officials will do everything within their power to support our residents."
Bonsall recently participated in meetings with U.S. Congressman John Fleming, U.S. Senator David Vitter and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in Washington D.C.
"I have been quoted as saying things about that visit that may have been taken negatively," Bonsall said. "When I read my comments, I realized I should have taken more care in how I phrased the meetings' outcomes."
Bonsall said while firm answers are pending, he feels confident Fleming, Vitter and Landrieu are all supportive of finding a solution.
"This is happening in Representative Fleming's backyard, and I know he is invested and will do everything he can, within his capabilities," Bonsall said. "He is extremely supportive of his district, and I expect the situation at Camp Minden will not be an exception."
According to Fleming's office, Webster and Bossier Parish jury and district attorney representatives suggested the Army has some level of responsibility for clean-up of the Explo problem and the storage of excess propellant.
"I asked for explanation of the legal logic for this position in order to speak factually to the Army on behalf of the parish citizens and officials on the Army's alleged responsibility," Fleming said.
Fleming heard Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin's opinion, which indicated there is precedence of at least partial responsibility for Army cleanup of Explo and storage of excess propellant.
"I requested that he (Marvin) secure a written legal opinion to support this position from an independent legal expert," Fleming said. "So far, approximately one month later, we have not received the document we requested. I want to do what I can to help, but I need to be informed and have ground to stand on. I would rather promise little and deliver big results than to make promises I can't keep. After all, the Army answers to the executive branch, not to the legislative."
Bonsall said he appreciates the attention the situation has been given.
"This is important to people here, so I know it is important to our legislators," he said. "As well as having faith in Rep. Fleming's efforts, I am completely satisfied with the response from Senator Vitter's office."
In separate statements, Fleming and Vitter said they have been kept informed of the situation's progress through communication from multiple entities.
"The safety of the entire area is a big priority," Vitter said. "There is still much more to do, (and) the Army needs to take a larger role in the final steps of securing what remains."
Landrieu's office has communicated she is also committed to lending her assistance to the situation.
"The safety of the community is Senator Landrieu's highest priority," said Erin Donar, spokeswoman for Landrieu. "She is working closely with local officials and the Army to address this issue."