Legislator: Taxpayers might foot bill for Explo propellant stora - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Legislator: Taxpayers might foot bill for Explo propellant storage

District 8 State Rep. Jeff Thompson: "Explo is not paying their bills." District 8 State Rep. Jeff Thompson: "Explo is not paying their bills."
This file photograph of the propellant was taken last year at Camp Minden. There remains about 3 million pounds stored there. This file photograph of the propellant was taken last year at Camp Minden. There remains about 3 million pounds stored there.
CAMP MINDEN, LA (KSLA) -

Millions of pounds of military propellant continue to sit at Camp Minden, and one legislator believes the meter is running -- on the taxpayer.

Just a few months ago Louisiana State Police Investigators discovered the improperly stored material, causing a flurry of activity, including evacuations, investigations, and homeland security hearings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

When the M6 propellant was found on the grounds of Camp Minden at Explo Inc., state and local authorities worked to secure it in igloos at Camp Minden. 

Roughly 3 million pounds remain improperly stored to this day.

"We've run out of options. We've exhausted every option we could explore to secure this material," said Captain Taylor Moss with the Louisiana State Police.

"How many magazines are we now giving them free of charge, that your department and the state is having to do without?" state Representative Jeff Thompson, Bossier, asked Camp Minden leadership attending the hearing.

Thompson is concerned over the bill that will be left behind.

"Because Explo is not paying their bills," said Thompson, referring to back rent, and previous clean up operations he says the company has not paid for. 

He's also concerned over the propellant that's taking up space.

"Unless there is a market to take it to we're going to have to get rid of it, because it's sitting in bunkers that have the opportunity to generate income to the state, that it's not generating," Thompson said.

According to Explo's lease agreement, the average size of one of those igloos is 1,700 to 2,000 square feet. Before that propellant was discovered, Explo rented 76 igloos, after it was discovered Camp Minden afforded them 21 more in order to safely store the powder. So there are now 97 igloos packed full, and nobody is paying rent.

"We can't allow them to take up storage space that has the opportunity to make money for the state and allow it to go on forever," said Thompson.

So the question is what would the state be taking in if someone were paying rent?

The lease lists a rent rate of $2.50 cents per square foot. Meaning those 97 igloos could be generating about $1,100 dollars a day.

But the cost doesn't stop with rent. The U.S. Department of Defense says that if Explo can't get rid of the 10 million pounds of dangerous powder, then the state would be responsible for it.
 
"And that's going to be an added cost going forward," Thompson said.

Thompson also points to the cost of disposing the powder and the cost of transporting it to a site that would accept hazardous materials.

Top brass at Camp Minden say they fully intend to charge Explo for every igloo used, and they fully expect Explo to pay for it.

But legislators aren't so optimistic, seeing the state picking up the tab. This means that, ultimately, the cost goes to the taxpayers.

Copyright 2013 KSLA. All rights reserved.

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