EPA, Army, tussle over artillery propellant

Military supplies—especially those that rely on chemicals—can have a significant impact on the environment if stored improperly, and in large amounts. Currently, the U.S. Army is engaged in a dispute with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the planned cleanup of 15 million pounds of M6 artillery propellant kept at a site in northwest Louisiana.

According to an Associated Press article on Manufacturing.net, the EPA ordered the Army to process and sell this propellant, arguing that it was being stored improperly in its current location. However, the Army has appealed the order, arguing that Explo System, the contractor meant to handle the propellant, is now defunct.

Last week, the EPA rejected the appeal, saying that the Army is ultimately responsible for the supplies.

"The Army should have exercised due care to ensure that all the relevant safety requirements were being met and that the demilitarization process was being safely conducted, the M6 propellant was being handled and stored properly and that the M6 propellant was sold to licensed recipients," the EPA wrote in its response to the appeal.

The EPA added that the three private sector entities that have been required to clean their share of the propellant are all in the process of doing so. Since Explo is no longer around to reuse the material, the EPA wants it to be moved elsewhere for disposal. Throughout this process, it is important for stakeholders to work closely not only with the EPA, but also with environmental consultants who can ensure that the impact on the area is minimal.