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Louisiana town evacuated after explosives found improperly stored nearby

07 December 2012

On December 3 some 800 residents of the town of Doyline, Louisiana, were evacuated after an estimated 6-million pounds pounds (2.72 million kg) of M6 artillery propellant were found stored in unsafe conditions at the nearby Camp Minden National Guard training site.

The company involved, Explo Systems Inc, has been under investigation since October when a bunker at Camp Minden exploded. Authorities investigating the blast found used propellant stacked in buildings, packed into long corridors and other boxes stashed outside. Some of the containers were spilling open.

The propellant is being transferred into bunkers and approved containers by authorities. The evacuation will be lifted after the artillery is distributed into amounts that will not threaten the town if ignited.

The October explosion was not the first at the Explo facility. A series of at least 10 explosions there in 2006 caused an earlier evacuation of Doyline, shut down Interstate 20 and forced officials to move students to schools in a nearby town.

The company was cited for safety violations by the federal government in 2007 for its use of old Army explosives in mining operations in West Virginia, where a blast with "outdated deteriorated military ordnance" injured one worker and exposed others to toxins. 

Explo Systems "displayed a reckless disregard for the health and safety of miners and by giving no consideration to the mining laws applicable to these activities," the Mine Safety and Health Administration said in report dated April 3, 2007.

And the company had fallen hundreds of thousands of dollars behind on its rent at the Louisiana National Guard base despite being awarded an Army contract to demilitarise hundreds of thousands of propelllant charges.

The company is now under a criminal investigation for its storage of the materials, and Doyline residents are also considering a lawsuit.

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