WASHINGTON — The deadline has come and gone for the Army to comply with an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that denied appeal of its decision to lay Camp Minden clean-up responsibility of millions of pounds of M6 propellant on the Army.
In a meeting Tuesday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce the EPA's order.
"DOJ is responsible for ensuring the Army complies with the order to clean up the more than 15 million pounds of M-6 explosives abandoned at Camp Minden by the Explo Company," Landrieu said.
During the meeting, Landrieu shared a copy of the EPA order, along with a cover letter outlining her request. The order was issued last week after a call between Landrieu and the EPA, and after the first face-to-face meeting among the Army and state and local leaders in Landrieu's office to discuss a solution to cleaning up the explosive materials at Camp Minden.
"The EPA's order makes clear that the Army must take responsibility for cleaning up the explosive materials at Camp Minden. During my meeting today with Attorney General Holder, I made sure he was aware of the situation and pressed him to ensure that he will hold the Army accountable," Landrieu said. "The residents of north Louisiana are living with a ticking time bomb in their backyard, and they deserve to be able to sleep at night without worrying that it will blow up. The Army had the chance to make its case and the EPA made its decision. It is now time to move forward and finally get this dangerous mess cleaned up."
Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, said that while the responsibility issue is not totally resolved yet, it is getting closer.
"We have rounded third base and are headed home. According to Landrieu's office, the Army has pretty much said it is their deal (responsibility)," Reynolds said. "That's a step in the right direction; however, we still have all these players – DOJ, Department of Army, EPA. They just say they don't have any money."
It's a process, he said, "by which the Army can access some funds that are available to get this done."
The EPA's Order became official yesterday, and Sen. Landrieu sent a letter to the Army urging it to comply by the July 26 deadline, which has passed.
"The Army should comply with its legal obligation to protect communities from explosive materials at Camp Minden," Jennah Durant, EPA spokesperson said. "In its recent letter, the Army raised the same issues that EPA had considered and addressed in making its order final and effective on July 22. As conditions at the site continue to deteriorate, EPA will press the Army for a comprehensive solution that protects public health and the environment."