Clements, Rolf. “Local Manufacturer Aids Explosive Problem.” N.p., 13 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015. <http://poncacitynews.com/12-13-Local-Manufacturer-Helps-With-15-Million-Pound-Explosives-Problem>.
Local Manufacturer Aids Explosive Problem
By ROLF CLEMENTS
News Staff Writer
The State of Louisiana has a 15 million pound explosives problem that must be fixed quickly or a repeat of an Oct. 15, 2012 explosion is likely in the near future, according to official statements by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana National Guard. On that date in 2012, a massive explosion in a storage bunker/magazine contain M6 explosives at Camp Minden shattered windows in the City of Minden, La. (located about four miles northeast) and generated a 7,000-foot mushroom cloud.
Louisiana State Police investigating the explosion found millions of pounds of unsecured M6 explosive, which is commonly used as howitzer gunpowder, all of which was reported to be improperly stored. The explosives were under the ownership and control of a company called Explo Systems, Inc. which had purportedly acquired the material in 2010 from the U.S. Army for purposes of destruction, which the company did not accomplish.
Due to the deteriorating conditions of the storage and stability of the propellant, the Army Explosive Safety Board advised that auto ignition of the M6 and other stored explosive materials could begin as early as the fall of 2015.
Currently there are approximately 18 million pounds of M6 and other explosive material being stored in 97 storage bunkers/magazines at the facility located about 28 miles east of Shreveport, La.
The Louisiana State Police ordered Explo Systems to immediately store the materials providing protection from the weather (heat, rain, cold) conditions. Weather conditions have a direct impact on the stabilizer used in explosives and propellants, and cause the stabilizer to deteriorate. After completing the relocation of materials into enclosed structures (buildings and bunkers) within Camp Minden, Explo Systems, Inc. filed bankruptcy and abandoned the materials in August 2013. The State of Louisiana National Guard (Military Department) thereafter took ownership of the abandoned materials located on their property, the 15,000 acre Camp Minden.
The Louisiana governor declared a State of Emergency and ordered a process of destruction to be identified as soon as possible.
Various methods of disposal were discussed including open burning, a controversial method strongly opposed by environmental groups. After reviewing several alternative methods, the EPA in conjunction with a Citizens’ Advisory Group announced that an incinerator in the form of a Contained Burn System would be used. The plan is to dismantle the incinerator and remove it after burns are finished.
The chamber for the system was constructed here in Ponca City by M J & H Fabrication, Inc. which is located in the Ponca City Airport Industrial Park. It will be part of a “Contained Burn Chamber” destruction method in which the chamber will be connected to an environmental system that is state of the art — there is only one other system like this in the world and that is in Denmark.
M6 will be loaded into the chamber and burned. The gas that comes from the burn will be sent through the environmental system. As a result of the environmental system, the release of gas into the environment is claimed to be as clean as hospital air, says the Louisiana National Guard in a press release. It adds that the design and manufacture of the chamber and system has been accomplished in a record amount of time. What normally takes two years has been expedited to less than a year to construct due to the nature of the emergency.
Gary Harvey, president of M J & H, says the company contracted to build the chamber in March and began shipment on Friday. He states the chamber is being ground transported first to the Port of Catoosa, where it will then be moved for water transport to Louisiana for installation at the prepared destruction site.
In the meantime, about three million pounds of more stable explosives have been removed from the Camp Minden property.
The State of Louisiana entered into a contract with Explosive Service International (ESI) on June 17, 2015, to conduct the destruction of approximately 15,687,247 pounds of M6 propellant and approximately 320,890 pounds of Clean Burning Igniter currently stored at Camp Minden, near Minden, La.
The initial contract was for $19,292,648 and may be increased to approximately $34-$35 million dollars. This is based on receipt of additional funding that comes from the U.S. Treasury’s Judgment Fund on behalf of the U.S. Army for the work.(See PROBLEM, Page 8A
IT TOOK almost 12 hours Friday to move this 436,000 pound, 27.5 foot high and 180-foot long explosion chamber from the M J & H Fabrication, Inc. manufacturing facility on Hall Boulevard near Dorada’s, south on Waverly to U.S. 60 and then eastward to just across the New River Bridge into the McCord area of west Osage County. The massive vessel is headed to the port facility in Catoosa where it will then be loaded for water transport to Louisiana for final destination at an explosive destruction facility at Camp Minden, 28 miles east of Shreveport, La. (News Photo by Rolf Clements)
HIGHLY COMPLICATED describes the logistics required to enable the move of the giant explosive chamber vessel through a maze of power and other utility lines, traffic signals, traffic islands, hills and other obstacles for the 436,000 pound object. (News Photo by Rolf Clements)
THE M J & H burn chamber as it slowly moves on US 60 with the Phillips 66 Ponca City Refinery in the background at 5:41 p.m. Friday. Photo provided by M J & H Fabrication, Inc. company president Gary Harvey.
CREWS WORK on Friday evening to restore power lines supplying the Phillips 66 Ponca City Refinery back to their aerial location after being lowered and then covered with ramps to allow for passage of a massive explosion chamber vessel transported Friday on U.S. 60. (News Photo by Rolf Clements)
THE UPRIGHT TANK to the left of this diagram shows where the 436,000 pound chamber manufactured by M J & H Fabrication, Inc. of Ponca City fits into a contained burn and air filtration system at Camp Minden, located near Minden, La., about 28 miles east of Shreveport, La.