State revokes explosives license - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

State revokes explosives license

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This aerial photo provided by the Louisiana State Police shows part of the smokeless explosive powder improperly stored outside Explo Systems Inc., a munitions dismantling facility at Camp Minden at Doyline, La. (AP/LSP/Shreveport Times) This aerial photo provided by the Louisiana State Police shows part of the smokeless explosive powder improperly stored outside Explo Systems Inc., a munitions dismantling facility at Camp Minden at Doyline, La. (AP/LSP/Shreveport Times)
HOLBROOK MOHR
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Authorities have revoked the explosives licenses of a company accused of improperly storing millions of pounds of a military propellant that was blamed for the evacuation of a Louisiana town last year.

State Police spokeswoman Julie Lewis said Monday that Explo System's state explosives licenses will remain revoked pending civil and criminal investigations.

Explo Systems had a multimillion-dollar contract to dismantle military propelling charges.

The company was blamed for the evacuation of Doyline last year when millions of pounds of a propellant called M6 was discovered haphazardly stored, some of it in boxes outside on Camp Minden, a Louisiana National Guard installation.

Lewis said more than 10 million pounds of the material has now been moved to proper storage magazines, sometimes called bunkers, and Explo relinquished its keys to the magazines.

An explosion last October led authorities to look more closely at Explo and its facility, which is operated on the Louisiana National Guard base. When a trooper investigating the explosion went to the facility, he discovered the dangerous material, leading to the evacuation of the town in northwest Louisiana known as the backdrop for the TV series "True Blood."

Explo Systems took apart propellant charges - used to fire artillery rounds - and sold M6 to companies that could use it for coal mine blasting, according to documents the company provided to the Army. It also sold other parts of the recycled propellant charges.

The arrangement meant the company could make money from the Army and buyers of the recycled components.

The Army gave Explo a $2.9 million annual contract in March 2010 to dismantle up to 450,000 propelling charges a year with options for renewal for four years. It's not clear exactly how much of the explosive material the company was able to sell.

Each charge contains 20.6 pounds of M6, according to Explo Systems' plan, meaning the company could take in nearly 9.3 million pounds each year under the contract.

At some point, the company ran out of storage room in Louisiana and in early 2012 asked to lease more space at the base, the Guard said. The company was turned down because it was about $400,000 behind on rent.

Doyline was evacuated because of concerns that any ignition - such as a lightning strike or a brush fire - could set off a massive chain-reaction blast.

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Follow Mohr on Twitter at http://twitter.com/holbrookmohr. 

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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