Louisiana: Explosives Find Sparks Evacuation

Louisiana: Explosives Find Sparks Evacuation

A whole town in northwest Louisiana has been been evacuated after roughly 6 million pounds of explosive material was discovered being stored illegally.

State police launched a criminal investigation into how the boxes and small barrels of M6 artillery propellant came to be stacked outdoors and crammed into unauthorised buildings leased by Explo Systems at Camp Minden, a former military ammunition plant.

"That's a lot of product, a lot of dangers in there. There are a lot of worst case scenarios. We need to work through those safely," said Louisiana State Police Colonel Michael Edmondson.

Officers had originally estimated there were around 450 tons (1,000,000lb) of the explosive material, which is used in howitzers and other artillery. But it turned out that there was just under 2,700. (6,000,000lb).

The weekend operation to move and secure the black powder into authorised storage facilities on the site is now expected to last until Tuesday.

Officials expressed concern on Monday that weather could complicate the transfer of the explosives.

State police spokeswoman Lieutenant Julie Lewis says if lightning is spotted within five miles of the site, operations will be suspended.

Light rain fell at midday Monday in the vicinity of the site near the town of Doyline. No lightning was expected Monday, but thunderstorms were forecast for Tuesday.

Officials estimate more than half of the 800 residents of Doyline left their homes on Friday. The authorities have now issued an order to evacuate the rest.

Police began investigating the company after an explosion at the site on October 15.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes