U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) today sent letters to Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Army Major General Glenn Curtis urging them both to make it a priority to remedy the munitions issues at Camp Minden. Vitter and Fleming got the Army to offer assistance after the problem went undetected by state officials.
"This is a long-term safety concern that needs immediate attention from the state," Vitter said. "Significant Army assistance could be provided if the state reacts in a timely and appropriate way."
"We've been engaged since we were made aware, and have been working closely with the Army to clarify their role," said Fleming. "Now that the immediate safety concerns are being addressed, it's time to move quickly to deal with the remaining explosives."
Last year Louisiana State Police discovered a large amount of explosives that had not been properly stored by a defense contractor, Explo Systems. The Department of Defense was reluctant to agree that they had necessary authority. After intervention from Vitter and Fleming, the Army has sent their Explosives Safety Board to evaluate and provide recommendations.
Below is the text of letters Vitter and Fleming sent to Gov. Jindal and Maj. Gen. Curtis.
The Honorable Bobby Jindal
Governor, State of Louisiana
Post office Box 94004
Baton Rouge LA, 70804
May 29, 2013
We are writing to you in order to stress the priority state officials should place in taking the necessary steps to remedy the remaining munitions issues at Camp Minden.
As you are aware, last year Louisiana State Police discovered an astounding amount of explosives that had not been stored properly in relation to a Department of Defense (DoD) contract with a private contractor, Explo Systems. The company failed to adhere to proper safety standards and managed to go undetected by state officials until a separate explosion unrelated to the M6 propellant occurred.
Initially, the Army seemed to take the general position that that they lack the necessary authority to assist. It is our understanding that the Congressional Delegation's intervention with the Army has changed that. The Explosives Safety Board sent by the Department of the Army to evaluate the situation and provide initial recommendations is currently preparing further guidance. Significant Army assistance could be provided if the state reacts in a timely and appropriate way.
Louisiana state officials have previously requested assistance from the DoD to find storage for the excess M6 propellant. From our understanding, there are currently a number of potential solutions to address the remaining materials in storage. Certain actions by the DoD will require that the Governor's office submit formal requests to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Notwithstanding pending local legal action, we ask that state officials submit to the Army what is required so that the Army may be of assistance absolutely as soon as possible.
As we move forward to find a solution please keep our offices informed as to the progress of this situation. In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing and continued attention to this issue.
David Vitter Dr. John Fleming
United States Senate United States Congress