Camp Minden: 6 Million Pounds of Explosives, Too Close for Comfort

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By RJ Bowman, Environmental Justice Corps Fellow from Residents for Air Neutralization, Shreveport

We weren’t actually able to get into Doyline because the town was basically quarantined and only the locals were allowed in and out of the town.  So instead, we traveled to Minden on information that there were some evacuee camps there.  After traveling a little bit and talking to the locals, we were able to successful find one camp in Minden.  We tried two locations, Madden Supply Co., HWY. 371, which we were unable to locate, and Caney Conference Center off of Methodist Camp Road, which we talked to a family that traveled there.

The family was a Mexican family and the older relatives spoke Spanish while the younger ones were able to translate. They live approximately half a mile from the facility in Doyline.  The state officials have been investigating the explosion but much information hasn’t been given to the communities there.  According to this family, no environmental officials were present or came to the area (EPA, DEQ, DHH, etc.).  The town is basically left in the dark on what is happening or what are the plans for the future.  According to them, a lot of families and business owners are staying home because they are unaware or feel that it is not dangerous enough to leave.

We also talked to a family that ran the camp that they were staying at.  We offered any assistance but none was needed because there were so few families there.  The family was called in over the weekend to open the camp and provide any assistance necessary.  From talking with them, they told us that people have told them that the black powder that was stored there was cased in cardboard boxes on crates out in the open.  Many residents are worried that when they remove the boxes of powder that they will leak, due to being left out in the elements for so long, and cause a greater problem.  They also said that they are fronting the money for any expenses and once Homeland Security is contacted, they will be reimbursed.  They gave us the name and location of another camp that was closer to the town of Doyline that more people could have gone to.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get to it because we would have to pass through Doyline to get to the location and road blocks were in place.

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