Louisiana Explosives Company Sues State Police for License

A company accused of improperly storing tons of explosives has sued Louisiana State Police to get back its revoked licenses.

Explo Systems Inc. and its owners filed suit late Friday in state court in Baton Rouge, The Times of Shreveport reported.

State police said they are reviewing the lawsuit and preparing for a court hearing. “Public safety has been and continues to be our number one priority,” said a statement emailed to The Associated Press by Capt. Doug Cain, a state police spokesman.

Authorities have said the explosives recycling company improperly stored tons of the military chemical propellant M6 at Camp Minden, a Louisiana National Guard installation, causing evacuation last year of nearby Doyline.

The company, which operated on leased space, has not been charged with any crimes but state and federal investigations are continuing.

Plaintiffs include owners David Smith, of Kentucky; David P. Fincher, of Tennessee; and Clifford Morrison, Kennety Lampkin, William Terry Wright, Carl Wayne Black, Todd R. Dietrich, Dina Bearden, Lionel W. Koons, Takisha Dickerson, Daryl Gill Sr., Floyd B. Hemphill, Steven L. Simmons, Curtis Stovall, Yolanda Willis, Cheryl Hunter and Micky Kemp, all of Louisiana.

They claim their constitutional rights against unreasonable seizure and taking without just compensation were violated when state police showed up without warning on May 20 and took all licenses and keys to the storage magazines.

An explosion last October led authorities to look more closely at Explo, which had a $2.9 million-a-year Army contract, and its facility.

In November, an investigator found that millions of pounds of M6 were improperly stored, raising the threat of a chain reaction that could have blown up multiple buildings, authorities have said.

Authorities said the M6 should have been stored in certified magazines, sometimes called bunkers, but some of it was found in boxes stacked in buildings, packed into long corridors that connect the buildings or among trees outside.

State police monitored the movement of the material into proper storage magazines, which took months.

The M6, Tritonal and flammable solid material that investigators claim were improperly stored were neither explosive nor within state police jurisdiction, the lawsuit contends.

It said there was no public safety threat when the licenses were revoked and Explo was left unable to fulfill its contracts and orders.