Residents remain homeless
Doyline residents will be displaced until at least Tuesday after an additional five million pounds of M6, a smokeless explosive propellant, was found this weekend at Explo System, Inc.'s lease at Camp Minden.
"Operations are going to be extended a little longer than we originally hoped," Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said. "We are doing that for safety reasons and because the amount of product we originally discovered is more than we originally thought."
Sexton praised other law enforcement agencies and public entities for their efforts as the hazardous material is repackaged and moved into magazines, or under ground bunkers on Camp Minden.
"This is the epitome of law enforcement when we all come together for the safety of the public," Sexton said.
Webster Parish school officials confirmed Doyline School will be closed Tuesday, and any other day that may be suggested by agencies involved in the clean up.
Louisiana State Police's Col. Mike Edmonson said he appreciates the cooperative effort between everyone involved, including the residents of Doyline.
"The Doyline community is one that is resilient and can take care of themselves," he said "We have learned they are prepared to do whatever to keep their families and property safe."
Edmonson said the product being moved is very dangerous and must be handled with the utmost of care.
"That is why it is taking so long to work through this," he said. "What we are finding out is the product was not always properly packaged. It is falling out in some areas and we are taking the time to re-package it.
"Getting the forklifts in tight areas in the building has been very difficult," he continued. "This is tedious and time consuming. So please keep in mind we are working as quickly as we can. We are also working as safely as we can."
While Edmonson said operations at Camp Minden went smoothly this weekend, he remains concerned.
"We found out Sunday, something more disturbing," he said. "We initially told you this was in excess of one million pounds. We now believe that to be over six million pounds of M6. That alone should concern you and tell you why we are spending an inordinate amount of time to make sure this is safe."
Despite the setback of more product being found, Edmonson is proud of what has been accomplished.
"In two days, more than 27 trucks of this material has been moved and repackaged," he said. "What we do is repackage it if needed and move it to an approved igloo, magazine or bunker (on Camp Minden.) "What we haven't been able to move we are trying to segregate. When we have segregated enough of the material, after moving what we can into magazines, that is when we will lift the evacuation of Doyline."
The six million pounds of M6 is not the same product that caused an explosion on October 15, which happened approximately two miles from the site the M6 is located.
"But the October 15 explosion is the reason we were on site and found this material," Edmonson said. "Both investigations are ongoing and likely they will be tied together."
Louisiana State Police have not yet been able to contact Explo's owners.
"We have not spoken to the owners, which is disturbing," Edmonson said. "But we have talked to the operation manager who has been working with us in a very good manner. He has been out here every day working with his guys.
"He did tell us today, the owners have been in South Korea and are coming back into the states (today)," he continued. "We will definitely be talking to them, but our number one goal right now is getting this product to a safe storage area, in a safe container, or segregated it enough so the town of Doyline is safe."
For now, the cost of the clean up is being footed by taxpayers.
"At this time, the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office is paying for the extra man power and other cost," Sexton said. "I don't want to put a price tag on this, but we are keeping tabs.
"It's going to be extremely expensive," he continued. "However, we are not going to set aside expense for the safety of our people."