By HOLBROOK MOHR
A company with a multimillion-dollar military contract to dismantle explosives was so overrun with the dangerous materials, it was stored in overflowing containers and even among the trees at its facility. Just three years ago, the company told the Army it had plenty of space to safely store and recycle the material, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Those documents shed some light on operations at Explo Systems Inc. and what it told military officials long before a Louisiana town near the company's facility had to be evacuated out of fear of an explosion. The company told the military its plan was to take the explosives apart and sell off the material, according to those same documents reviewed by the AP.
An explosion last October led authorities to look more closely at Explo and its facility, which is operated on the Louisiana National Guard base near Doyline, La. When a trooper investigating the explosion went to the facility, he discovered a haphazard collection of dangerous material, leading to the evacuation of the town in northwest Louisiana known for as the backdrop for the TV series "True Blood."
It's not clear from documents and in interviews with authorities exactly how much space the company had to safely store the explosives. But three years ago, the company said it had plenty of room.
In a proposal to the Army on Jan. 21, 2010, Explo Systems said it had "storage capacity for more than 70 million pounds of explosive material between our Louisiana and Kentucky storage locations," according to documents obtained by the AP through a public records request. Yet Louisiana authorities said the facility there could only hold about 10 million pounds and a Kentucky state official said the company did not have permission to store it in that state.