EDIT: The Clean Harbors, LLC application for expansion for their Colfax facility has been withdrawn.  Though hundreds of letters of opposition were recieved by the LDEQ, comments are no longer necessary in light of the withdrawl. Source: http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/local/2016/02/15/colfax-open-burn-request-withdrawn-hearing-canceled/80419250/.

Last year, citizens living near the Louisiana National Guard facility at Camp Minden objected to using an open-burn method for disposal for large amounts of military ammunition being stored there.  After great debate, it was decided that the facility would adopt a close-burn method for disposal, which is much safer for the surrounding environment.  The same issue now has come up concerning a similar, privately owned facility in Colfax.  This facility is owned by Clean Harbors, a multi-purpose industrial company headquartered in Massachusetts.

The Clean Harbors facility in Colfax is the only one of its kind in the nation and specializes in the disposal of explosives, being licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act to dispose of around 300 different types of explosives, according to Clean Harbors.  The facility is sited on about 700 acres and uses an open-burn method.  The Clean Harbors facility receives hazardous waste from all over the country for disposal, and currently has an application for an increase in its EPA-allowed rate of burning.  Currently, the annual limit from the EPA is 480,000 pounds per year.  The application from Clean Harbors is to increase this to 2,055,000 per year, which would be about 1,500 pounds per hour, over four times the current rate, according to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

The open-burn method of disposal results in a host of pollutants entering the air, including sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, polyatomic hydrocarbons, and several heavy metals.  All of these substances are varying degrees of toxic and carcinogenic to humans, wildlife, and vegetation alike.  The surrounding area already has a higher level of pollution, and if the facility were to increase rates to the proposed scale, the effects could be present up to forty miles away, said Rep. Terry Brown of Colfax in a State House press release.  With the proximity to the Red River, there is also a very likely risk that many of these pollutants will make their way into the Atchafalaya and Mississippi Rivers, affecting the large area that constitutes their combined basin.

A public hearing will be held to discuss the permit application at the Grant Parish Civic Center on February 23.  The Grant Parish Civic Center is at 420 Richardson Drive, Colfax, LA 71417.

Public comments on the application will be accepted up until February 29 and should be sent to:

LDEQ Public Participation Group
P O. Box 4313
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4313
email: deq.publicnotes@la.gov
fax: 225 219 3309

For a downloadable copy of the Clean Harbors permit with modification request, go to: http://edms.deq.louisiana.gov/app/doc/view.aspx?doc=9996371&ob=yes&child=yes.

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