- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MINDEN, La. (AP) - A court hearing has been scheduled June 1 for the owners of a company accused of leaving more than 7,500 tons of improperly stored artillery propellant at a site leased from Camp Minden. A third Explo Systems Inc. executive is scheduled in court in August.

State District Judge Mike Craig will hear the case against David Fincher, 65, of Burns, Tennessee, and David Smith, 57, of Winchester, Kentucky, The Minden Press-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1c5qdYp).

William Terry Wright, 59, of Bossier City is to be tried Aug. 3 before District Judge Mike Nerren.

The hearings were rescheduled because two defendants’ attorneys couldn’t make an April 6 date, District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said.

The later dates were chosen so those cases would be the only ones on the docket, he said.

Explo Systems, which leased space from the National Guard’s industrial site at Camp Minden, abandoned the chemicals after going bankrupt in 2013. Louisiana State Police had found them in an investigation after an explosion in October 2012 in one of Explo’s leased bunkers rattled homes, shattered windows 4 miles away in Minden and created a 7,000-foot mushroom cloud.

All three men have pleaded not guilty to unlawful storage of explosives, reckless use of explosives, failure to obtain magazine licenses, failure to properly mark explosive material, failure to keep accurate inventory and conspiracy to commit each of the crimes.

Marvin said the defendants have a number of pending motions, including one to suppress some evidence and another to move the trial because of extensive media coverage. Another, he said, asks for a bill of particulars - a court document giving more specifics than a bill of information, which simply lists the counts on which a defendant is charged.

Since the state police investigation, the propellant has been properly stored in nearly 100 magazines, or bunkers, but the stability of the material remains unknown. Studies conducted by the U.S. Army and the Environmental Protection Agency report the instability of M6 becomes more dangerous every day it sits.

A committee of experts and military officials is considering 10 proposals for what the would-be contractors say would be safe destruction. The EPA created an uproar by saying open burning was the only way to get rid of it. Locals said that would create toxic fumes.


Information from: Minden Press-Herald, https://www.press-herald.com/



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