On June 8, 2018, Charles Ferris Callihan, an employee of Explo Systems, Inc. (Explo), Minden, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Shreveport, Louisiana, to creating false documents related to the illegal transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. Callihan 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 and shut down Interstate 20. 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cited Explo for its use of old Army explosives in mining operations in West Virginia, where a blast with “outdated deteriorated military ordnance” injured one worker and exposed others to toxins.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, M6 artillery propellants exploded in 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. 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; over 2,700 pounds of TNT-contaminated wastewater, known as “red/pink water;” and 15,682,874 pounds of M6 had been improperly stored at Explo. In addition, to accommodate the storage of M6, Explo shipped reactive hazardous waste under false pretenses to third-party landfills.
As part of his guilty plea, Callihan admitted that between April 11, 2011, and April 18, 2011, he created a false Material Safety Data Sheet and Special Waste Profile that omitted the fact that Explo wanted to dispose asphalt wax waste material contaminated with TNT at a nonhazardous landfill in Louisiana. In addition, Explo’s owners and management knew the reactive hazardous waste was not eligible for disposal in that landfill.
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, FBI, and LSP Emergency Service Unit.