The Webster Parish District Attorney's Office says Explo Systems Inc. will plead guilty in September to charges related to the improper storage of millions of pounds of explosives materials at its Camp Minden location.
Webster Parish District Attorney Schuyler Marvin says the plea was scheduled to have been entered Tuesday but was postponed because of pending action in federal court with the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Marvin wants Explo to have a guilty plea on its record in case anyone associated with it attempts to obtain explosive licenses in the future in other states.
"I want to make sure this is on the record," said Marvin after learning within recent weeks the bankruptcy attorney, John Luster, is making arrangements to sell two of Explo's licenses to satisfy part of the company's debt to its creditors. "They filed notice who they are selling them to. I still don't see how they can do that but Luster wanted to conclude the transaction before the guilty plea was entered."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March ordered the U.S. Department of the Army to dispose of the explosives, which it sold to Explo under a demilitarization contract. The EPA finalized its order this month and set a deadline of Tuesday for the Army to submit its intent to comply. The price tag of removal costs has ranged from $20-30 million.
The EPA's administrative order finds the Army contributed to the illegal storage and handling of the waste explosives, thereby creating an "imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and the environment." The EPA further noted the instability of the material increased the chance of an "uncontrolled explosion," which is what happened in October 2012 when a magazine filled with M6 blew high into the night sky and rattled homes and businesses for miles away.
A subsequent investigation two months later by Louisiana state police led to the discovery of the thousands of boxes of M6 scattering Explo's property and inside its storage buildings. The product had been sitting in the elements, further increasing its potential volatility.
Fearing a chain reaction explosion, state and parish officials recommended a weeklong evacuation of the nearby town of Doyline to allow emergency crews to relocate the explosives into secure magazines, also called igloos and bunkers, elsewhere on the Camp Minden property.