An entire town in Louisiana was recently evacuated after officials discovered six million pounds of explosive material they say were being stored illegally. The 800 residents of Doyline were put under a voluntary evacuation order for several days, with kids out of school and some people living at camp sites in a nearby state park.
The explosives were discovered last October, when fire officials were called to a blast at Explo Systems’ northern Louisiana facility, located at Camp Minden. As authorities began investigating that explosion, they discovered an estimated 6 million pounds of a propellant called M6 haphazardly stored. Boxes were stacked in buildings, some were packed into long corridors that connect the buildings and more were found stashed outside. Many of the containers were spilling open.
The evacuation was necessary because authorities feared that ignition of any of the propellant could set off a massive chain reaction that would race through the corridors and blow up multiple buildings, threatening the town.
This isn’t the first time Explo Systems has come under scrutiny for their handling of explosive materials. A series of at least 10 explosions at its current location in 2006 caused an evacuation of Doyline, shutting down Interstate 20 and forcing officials to move students to schools in a nearby town.
The company also came under scrutiny in West Virginia where it was using an old military explosive called tetryl in mountaintop removal mining for Catenary Coal Co. in 2006 and 2007. A February 2007 blast injured one worker and exposed others to toxins. Some of the tetryl dated back to 1940.
Explo Systems leased the property at Camp Minden from the National Guard. According to a report on KTBS News, the company was so far behind in their rent, the National Guard refused to lease the company anymore space. The State Police is investigating the company for possible criminal charges.
Safe Storage of Explosive Materials, the DVD training program that Emergency Film Group produced for the Institute of Makers of Explosives (www.ime.org), is designed to assist manufacturers, distributors and users of commercial explosives in conforming to Federal Regulations and recommended practices. This film may also assist public safety personnel who might respond to a situation involving explosives. To learn more, read here. . .