State leaders demand answers about unsecured hazardous chemicals
POSTED: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 9:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 9:04pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — The Louisiana State Police says a large stash of hazardous material near Shreveport is becoming more dangerous.
The state has been trying for months to get Explo to secure and move this chemical, a propellant called M6, out of Camp Minden.
At a special hearing of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security Thursday morning, legislators learned that both the state police and Explo have exhausted all options for storing the 3.2 million pounds of M6 that remain unsecured on the grounds.
The large quantity of propellant could become an added expense for Louisiana if Explo fails to mitigate the threat.
"DOD advised that if Explo was unable to meet their commitment, that the state would now become responsible," stated Cpt. Taylor Moss of the Louisiana State Police.
"It's kind of ridiculous if you ask me," said Jason Cooper of nearby Doyline. "I mean, it should have never been in this much of a predicament in the first place."
Doyline was evacuated soon after the M6 was discovered in November, but residents have since been allowed back into their homes. People who live there remain concerned. Because of the way Explo handled the M6, it had a high risk of catching on fire or exploding.
"We can't get on an airplane with six ounces of shampoo or hand lotion, but we got ten million pounds of illegally stored hazardous material that shows up," said State rep. Jeff Thompson, (R) Bossier City. "People want to know how that happens."
If no arrangement can be made for the remaining cache of M6, Louisiana would have to burn it, a process that could take as long as a year.
"We shouldn't have to pay for it," said Doyline resident Billy Reeves, "cause it wasn't our fault."
"I don't like waking up and finding I got a $10 million gift I didn't ask for," agreed Thompson.
The longer it takes to move or dispose of the M6, the more it will cost the state. Explo owes at least $500,000 in rent payments to the Louisiana National Guard, but Thompson estimates that figure could be low by a factor of ten.
"It's time for Explo to come to the table," he stated, "and make sure that we explore every opportunity to recover penny out there."
The M6 was discovered after an explosion at Camp Minden in October. That explosion was also Explo's fault, but it was gunpowder that ignited, not propellant.
Moss said the state police continues its criminal investigation, but charges will eventually be filed against Explo for that incident.