A bill that would increase liability insurance premiums for companies that handle more than 500,000 pounds of explosives has now made its way to the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 35 passed off the floor with a vote of 36 to three and was sent to the House’s Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice this week. Sen. Ryan Gatti, District 36, says he’s pleased with the outcome so far, adding this bill was in direct response to the mess caused by Explo Systems Inc. in 2012 following a massive explosion of demilitarized munitions at Camp Minden.
“The old law only required $2 million dollars in coverage to get a permit to demilitarize bombs, and Explo caused much more damage than that,” he said. “The new law requires $50 million in coverage and includes the surrounding communities.”
According to the bill, the insurance would “provide coverage for damage caused by blast waves, blast wind, fire, fragmentation, open burning, secondary fragmentation, shockwaves and stress waves which result from the handling, movement, use, manipulation or other action causing the detonation of explosives by the applicant or an employee or agent of the applicant.”
Gatti says if the bill becomes law, this means damage caused from munitions explosives in communities such as Doyline and Haughton would be covered.
“Areas around the site are covered if something damages them or their property,” he said.
It also means other companies around the site would be covered as well, he added.
In January, the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued a final ruling in the case between Explo and their insurance company Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance. Judge Donald E. Walter and Magistrate Judge Karen L. Hayes ruled the insurance company did not have to cover any claim that arose from the 2012 explosion or the “subsequent evacuation of the area around Camp Minden which included, but was not limited to, Doyline, Louisiana.”
If the bill is signed into law, it would go into effect Aug. 1.