In this photo released Tuesday by the Louisiana State Police shows piles of explosive powder stored at the Camp Minden industrial site that officials say were improperly housed by a company. State police and Webster Parish sheriff's deputies were working to secure hundreds of thousands of pounds of the explosive powder. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, December 01, 2012 9:17 PM
DOYLINE (AP) — Louisiana authorities said late Saturday they were making "suitable and cautious progress" in moving 1 million pounds of improperly stored explosive powder to storage bunkers at the Camp Minden industrial site.
Work began at sunrise Saturday and concluded at sunset, said State Police spokesman Trooper Matt Harris. It will continue Sunday, and possibly into Monday. Schools in the town are closed Monday.
Roads around Doyline were blocked off at 6 a.m. Saturday. Officials have said residents will only be allowed back in while the powder is being moved for "certain scenarios."
"While the process is time-consuming, there were no unexpected problems, incidents and injuries incurred today," the Louisiana State Police reported late Saturday. "Currently, LSP technicians are not able to make a determination as to when the threat area will be reduced to within the confines of the Camp Minden property; hence, eliminating the necessity of Doyline's evacuation. "
Many of Doyline's 800 residents evacuated Friday. Some are staying at a Methodist camp in Minden and others at Lake Bistineau State Park. Others decided to stay, despite assurances from Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton that he would "flood" the town with officers, including some borrowed from other police agencies, to prevent looting.
Ray Powell owner of Powell's Grocery says the evacuation will hit him in the pocket, because it's the first time his store will be closed in over forty years.
Many residents planned to leave for the weekend, but some like Dorothy Dodd decided to stay. "I've got family members mad at me because they think I should leave. Dodd said Friday. "But I have animals I've got to take care of, and my house, so I'm not leaving."
Those who stayed are under a nighttime curfew.
State investigators found the explosives while inspecting property leased by Explo Systems, where an above-ground storage magazine exploded in October. The powder was stored outside in cardboard boxes on wooden pallets. State police and Explo employees are carrying out the move.
Authorities say the powder isn't an imminent threat, but should be stored in a bunker approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They said the pace of the transfer will depend in part on how well the containers hold up as they are loaded onto trucks.
Explo Systems experienced an explosion in 2006 as well. Four residents have sued the company, seeking to recoup evacuation expenses and what they say are property value losses. The Webster Parish District Court suit seeks class-action status.
State Rep. Gene Reynolds told residents Thursday that he may seek legislative changes to force Explo Systems to close or relocate.