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Monday, Feb. 2, 2015


Concerned Citizens continue daily tactics for Camp Minden

Each day since several agencies and officials signed an agreement in October to get rid of the M6 explosives at Camp Minden, political activist Frances Kelley has posted updates and calls to action to the Concerned Citizens of the Camp Minden M6 Open Burn facebook’s page. The agreement was to conduct an open burn of over 15 million pounds of M6 propellant at Camp Minden.

Kelley, a Shreveport native and the director of organizing for Louisiana Progress Action, is the organizer of the Concerned Citizens. The group of citizens ultimately seeks a way to push officials to get rid of the explosives in the safest and healthiest way possible for their community. The Forum sat down with Kelley. 

Q: What is your role in this group and daily tasks?

Kelley: I coordinate the campaign along with a team of very committed people who are working extremely hard every day. I spend about 12 hours or more every day on the campaign, including lots of hours on the phone with either members of our local team, the Louisiana Progress Action team in Baton Rouge, or the national environmental experts who are assisting and advising us. I also spend a lot of time doing research, talking with elected officials, writing press releases and emails, answering media calls, preparing for our meetings, keeping track of the facebook group and managing day to day tasks. 

Q: Each day you post a call to action. Is there any other way to get involved?

Kelley: The daily call to action is an easy way for residents to help with just a few minutes of their day. Other simple ways to help include gathering petition signatures, passing out flyers, writing letters to the editor, outreach to churches and community groups, and reaching out to local elected officials for support. We have weekly strategy meetings on Saturdays to plan new action steps; anyone is welcome to attend and share their ideas and help plan our group actions. 

Q: What is the response from officials?

Kelley: Most, but not all, elected officials are very responsive. Many elected leaders at both the local and national level have spoken out in support of choosing a disposal method for the M6 that has been scientifically proven to be safe. The EPA has become very responsive within the past few weeks and now is committed to including citizens in the process for selecting an alternative disposal method. 

Q: If officials move forward with the plan, what is the next route from the group?

Kelley: Concerned Citizens is committed to stopping the open burn and winning a safe disposal method for the M6. We will not allow it to happen here. The risks from chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems are too great. One of the chemicals that would be formed and spread in an open burn is dioxin, which is the chemical in Agent Orange that made Vietnam veterans so ill. Some forms of dioxin are more carcinogenic than plutonium. 

Q: Would the group protest? If so, how?

Kelley: There are a variety of nonviolent tactics that we may consider using if necessary. Right now, we are looking to work through the dialogue committee that the EPA just agreed to form. 

Q: Have any officials been helpful?

Kelley: State Rep. Gene Reynolds has been working extremely hard for years now to resolve the situation. He has been supported by other area state representatives and state senators. Sen. Mary Landrieu helped secure the funding for the clean up. Sen. [David] Vitter, Sen. [Bill] Cassidy, Rep. [John] Fleming, and Rep. [Ralph] Abraham have sent letters to the EPA asking for answers about the open burn. Mayors and City Council members from Minden, Sibley, Doyline, and Shreveport, the Webster Parish Sheriff, and some Caddo Commissioners have all spoken out for a safe disposal method. David Gray and others at the EPA Region 6 are now speaking out in support of the citizens’ right to participate in the decision making process.


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