WEBSTER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Authorities are trying to determine how to move and secure as much as a million pounds of explosive materials they say are improperly stored on property leased by Explo Systems, Inc. at Camp Minden.
Col. Mike Edmonson, head of the Louisiana State Police, says his investigators found the improperly stored material during an inspection of the property, as part of the investigation into the October 15 blast at one of the company's storage bunkers.
The Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit was performing a follow-up inspection on Monday at the site when they found the material. Following that discovery, a search warrant was executed in an extended area of the lease, where investigators say they found at least one million pounds of smokeless gunpowder in the open and in other unapproved locations.
Sheriff Gary Sexton says a propellant is not the same thing as explosives, but he says it's still a big concern for authorities and the sheer amount of it found in the site is a public safety concern, especially since the site is within a mile of the parish prison, the town of Doyline, and a school. "Our concern is the excessive amount that's just laying on the ground in boxes and pallets."
"It's a safety factor," Sexton said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "We're trying to make decisions over the next few days as to how exactly we are going to correct this problem."
Sexton says he is waiting for a full assessment of the site before determining whether to evacuate the area.
Before anything is moved, Sexton says the public will be given at least 24 hours notice.
Edmonson says the propellant in its current state is considered stable and not an immediate threat to the surrounding area. "Sitting there, it's OK. Once we start to move it, that's when there could be a problem."
As for who is responsible, Edmonson says, "It's an ongoing criminal investigation as to why this material is back there, why it's improperly stored." He went on to say "The responsible party, responsible individuals, will certainly be dealt with."
Explo Systems officials didn't immediately answer phone calls Tuesday.