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AP: Bunkers needed for explosives after evacuation

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013
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Explo Systems officials haven't responded to numerous messages since the investigation began. An attorney who represented the company in the past declined to comment when a reporter visited his office in Shreveport, La.

The Army awarded Explo Systems a contract in 2010 to demilitarize hundreds of thousands of propelling charges for artillery rounds. The contract was for $2.9 million with options for renewal for four years. The contract called for the demilitarization of as many as 450,000 propelling charges per year. Demilitarizing explosives generally entails changing a device or chemical in a way that it can't be used for its originally intended purposes.

Stephen Abney, a spokesman for the Army's Joint Munitions Command, has said Explo requested on Nov. 27 that the government hold all shipments because Louisiana authorities would not allow them to receive it until inspections and investigations have been completed.

This isn't the first time the company has come under scrutiny.

A series of at least 10 explosions at the facility in 2006 caused an evacuation of Doyline.

The company also came under scrutiny in West Virginia where it was using an old military explosive called tetryl in mountaintop removal mining for Catenary Coal Co. in 2006 and 2007, according to documents reviewed by AP. A February 2007 blast injured one worker and exposed others to toxins, authorities said. Some of the tetryl dated back to 1940.

Explo had a contract to use the material for mining operations for the Catenary Coal Company in Eskdale, W.V., according to documents that AP obtained from the Army through a public records request.

That Army contract required the company to "comply with all applicable Federal, State, and local safety regulations and requirements" for the handling and disposal of hundreds of thousands of pounds of "various artillery boosters and fuze components."

But The Mine Safety and Health Administration said in report dated April 3, 2007 that Explo Systems "displayed a reckless disregard for the health and safety of miners and by giving no consideration to the mining laws applicable to these activities."

Explo Systems, which was registered in Louisiana in 2001, has made millions from contracts with the military. In 2011, the company listed its annual revenue as $3 million with 70 employees, according to the Federal Procurement Data System.

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