On April 24, Lionel Koons, an employee of Explo Systems, Inc. (Explo), Minden, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Shreveport, Louisiana, to defrauding the Federal Government on a munitions demilitarization contract with the U.S. Army. Koons was indicted on August 25, 2016.
Explo operated a bomb demilitarization and explosives recycling facility at the Louisiana National Guard facility at Camp Minden. In 2006, at least 10 explosions at the Camp Minden facility caused an evacuation of the town of Doyline, shut down Interstate 20, and forced officials to move students to schools in a nearby town. In 2007, the Mine Safety and Health Administration cited Explo for its use of old Army explosives in mining operations in West Virginia, where a blast with “outdated deteriorated military ordnance” injured one worker and exposed others to toxins.
On October 15, 2012, an explosion of M6 artillery propellants occurred at an Explo underground bunker at Camp Minden. During a post-incident investigation, the Louisiana State Police (LSP) discovered Explo was illegally storing over 6 million pounds of M6 propellant. As a result, Doyline was evacuated for approximately 1 week until enough of the M6 could be moved to allow reentry. In November 2012, a State search warrant was executed at the Explo facility. The subsequent investigation revealed that approximately 100,000 pounds of TNT-contaminated materials and over 2,700 pounds of TNT-contaminated wastewater, known as “red/pink water,” had been stored in an unsecured warehouse. The investigation also revealed that 15,682,874 pounds of demilitarized M6 was improperly stored at the Explo facility and that Explo shipped reactive hazardous waste under false pretenses to third-party landfills to accommodate the storage of demilitarized M6.
As part of his guilty plea, Koons admitted that he’d submitted a false statement to the U.S. Army Contracting Command in which he failed to reveal that Explo had been ordered to cease further receipt of M6 due to a lack of sufficient storage space.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and LSP Emergency Service Unit.