Clean Harbors Colfax open burning haz waste LouisianaA national coalition of 29 organizations is supporting Louisiana residents in their fight to end open air burning of hazardous explosive waste in the town of Colfax. In formal comments submitted to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality today, the coalition is calling for the immediate implementation of safer alternatives that will protect human health and the environment.

“Open burning and detonation of energetics and explosives-contaminated wastes results in the uncontrolled dispersion of toxic and carcinogenic emissions including heavy metals, energetic compounds, perchlorate, nitrogen oxides and other munitions-related contaminants to the environment,” the coalition wrote.




The groups are objecting to current operations and a pending permit modification for the Clean Harbors facility in central Louisiana. If approved, the threshold for open air burning of reactive and explosives-contaminated wastes would increase from 480,000 pounds to over 2 million pounds per year. The permit is currently issued pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a federal law that ironically prohibits all open burning of hazardous waste.

”The current and expanded RCRA permit for Clean Harbors Colfax does not comply with federal laws and regulations which ONLY allow for open burning and detonation of hazardous waste which cannot safely be disposed of through other modes of treatment,” the letter to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said.

“As the Department is well aware, safer technologies have been implemented and permitted elsewhere including Super Critical Water Oxidation, Static Detonation Chambers, Detonation of Ammunition in a Vacuum-Integrated Chamber (DAVINCH), Controlled Detonation Chambers, and Hydrolysis,” the coalition emphasized.

The 700-acre Clean Harbors commercial facility currently receives, stores, and treats over 300 energetic/reactive waste streams in solid, sludge, and liquid forms. These hazardous wastes include fireworks, detonators, propellants, power charges, shaped charges, igniters, fuses, bulk high explosives, rocket motors, detonating cord, air bag inflators, and explosives-contaminated debris.

The joint letter was organized by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB), a Wisconsin-based environmental justice organization that has worked on military cleanup issues for more than 25 years. CSWAB is a co-founder of the Cease Fire Campaign, a national grassroots initiative to end open air burning, detonation and incineration of toxic military wastes.


Colfax, Louisiana is just one of approximately 100 communities where open air burning of hazardous wastes is still occurring. Sign the PETITION to EPA at

THANK YOU to the following organizations that co-signed formal comments to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality:

California Safe Schools, Los Angeles, CA
Crawford Stewardship Project, Gays Mills, WI
Midwest Environmental Justice Organization, Madison, WI
Center for Public Environmental Oversight, Mountain View, CA
Peaceful Skies Coalition, Arroyo Hondo, NM
Kentucky Environmental Foundation, Berea, KY
Barron Park Association Foundation, Palo Alto, CA
Camp Minden Citizens Advisory Group (CMCAG), Minden, LA
Citizen Action New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Louisiana Progress Action, Baton Rouge, LA
Volunteers for Environmental Health and Justice, Kingsport, TN
Green Cross International, Washington, DC
Frederick Citizens for Bio-lab Safety, MD
Institute for Science and International Security, Washington, DC
Alaska Community Action on Toxics, AK
Texas Campaign for the Environment, TX
Military Toxics Project, TN
Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin, WI
Wisconsin Environmental Health Network, Madison, WI
California Communities Against Toxics, Rosamond, CA
Protect All Children’s Environment, Marion, NC
Voluntary Cleanup Advisory Board, Denver, CO
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, WI
Center for Health, Environment & Justice, VA
Defense Depot Memphis Tennessee Concerned Citizens Committee, TN
WI Coalition to Ground the Drones, Madison, WI
Louisiana Bucket Brigade, LA
Louisiana Environmental Action Network, LA
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Merrimac, WI

Coalition joint letter to LDEQ Jan 2016