State, ESI in legal dispute over burn chamber ownership

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The state and Explosive Service International are in legal dispute over who owns the contained burn chamber at Camp Minden.

M6 Project Coordinator Winston Matejowsky confirmed Tuesday the state is contesting the ownership, saying they own it and not ESI.

“Our attorneys called ESI and we will be contesting ownership,” he said. “We don’t know when the resolve [sic] will be, but it will not drag out. Louisiana paid full price for the chamber. The governor has said the chamber will leave. We are working on a final (resolution).”

The U.S. Department of Defense released about $34 million to pay for the cleanup of the M6 artillery propellant to the state, and once the project is complete – meaning sampling is completed and the chamber is no longer on the premises of Camp Minden – the state will release the money to ESI, the contractor that destroyed nearly 16 million pounds of M6 and clean burning igniter left behind by the now defunct, Explo Systems Inc.

Citizens Advisory Group Board Member Rick Broussard said he believes ESI should pay for the chamber because they are going to remove it from Camp Minden and use it for private monetary gain.

“They are going to try to take it and use it for-profit, private work,” he said.
CAG member Dr. Brian Salvatore said the CAG should be a part of the discussion in that the state may need advice from the citizens.

“It might be that a representative needs to sign a nondisclosure agreement to enter into those discussions,” he said. “Otherwise, the CAG is going to find itself as outsiders and there’s going to be this fight between the state and the company and that could go on for a long time. Nobody wants that.”

Matejowsky said because this is a criminal case, the U.S. Department of Justice is monitoring the money, which actually came from the DOD, not the state.

“I don’t think this is the time to get into a war over who owns what,” Salvatore said. “The job is done, and we should be applauding the company for that.”

As of press time, comment from the governor’s office and ESI was unavailable.

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