Five are sentenced in Explo case
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined law enforcement partners from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana, the Department of Defense, the U. S. Army, the Department of Transportation, the FBI, and the Louisiana State Police in announcing the sentencing of five defendants for their role in a case involving Explo Systems, Inc., a private company involved in the demilitarization of military munitions.
Explo Systems' mismanagement of military munitions resulted in a large detonation at a storage facility in Camp Minden, Louisiana, on October 15, 2012. The explosion damaged buildings in a four-mile radius, derailed 11 rail cars, and was felt up to thirty-five miles away. In addition, an investigation revealed that Explo Systems had illegally disposed of hazardous waste resulting in over $38 million dollars of cleanup costs to tax payers.
"Through their reckless mismanagement of waste explosives, the defendants put the safety of an entire town at risk," said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine."Today's sentencing should send a clear message that EPA and our law enforcement partners will hold corporate officials responsible for violating laws designed to protect our communities and the environment."
Explo Systems, Inc. is an explosives demilitarization and recycling company, which operated several facilities at Camp Minden, Louisiana, leased from the Louisiana Military Department (LMD). The U.S. Army awarded Explo Systems a contract on March 24, 2010 to dispose of 450,000 155mm artillery propelling charges designated as M119A2 for $2,902,500. The Army and Explo Systems officials later amended the contract on March 6, 2012 to dispose of 1,350,000 M6 propellant charges for $8,617,500.
The contract required Explo Systems to properly store and dispose of the demilitarized propellant, which is a solid, granular, explosive material. The contract also required Explo Systems to document the sale of the demilitarized propellant by completing an End User Certificate (EUC). On the EUC, the purchaser of the demilitarized propellant certified the purchase and compliance with applicable federal laws, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The defendants, all employed by Explo Systems, conspired from January 2010 to November 2012 to defraud the United States by submitting false EUCs to the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Center (JMC), according to the EPA. Instead of selling the explosive material as indicated by the false EUCs, the hazardous waste was disposed of in unpermitted facilities, including public landfills, and improperly stored, which resulted in a large explosion and the evacuation of the Town of Doyline.
The EPA said "Explo Systems illegally disposed of approximately forty-seven truckloads of reactive hazardous waste containing explosives to public landfills across Louisiana and Arkansas. Not only did officials at Explo Systems defraud the government about the disposal of the explosive material but they also moved and improperly stored propellant to hide the improper storage from government officials. Lower-level employees were instructed to hide and conceal improperly stored demilitarized propellant and reactive hazardous waste from government officials during inspections. The total costs paid by the taxpayers to ensure the proper destruction and remediation of the propellant and hazardous waste which EXPLO illegally stored on site exceeded $38 million."
For their role in a criminal conspiracy that led to the October 2012 explosion at Camp Minden, United States District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote presided over hearings and sentenced these five Explo Systems defendants: Co-owner David Alan Smith of Winchester, Kentucky; Vice President of Operations William Terry Wright of Bossier City, Louisiana; Director of Support Technology Charles Ferris Callihan, of Shreveport, Louisiana; Demilitarization Program Manager Kenneth Wayne Lampkin of Haughton, Louisiana; and Traffic and Inventory Control Manager Lionel Wayne Koons of Haughton, Louisiana.
The EPA announcement said, "Through the diligent work of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and their state and federal law enforcement partners, including the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit (USACID-MPFU), the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Criminal Investigations Section, and Troopers from the Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit, the defendants were held accountable for their actions which endangered communities, defrauded tax payers, and resulted in multi-million dollar hazardous waste cleanup sites across Louisiana and Arkansas."