Montana trucking company, owner found guilty in 2012 hazmat explosion

Woody’s Trucking and Donald E. Wood Jr., were found guilty on May 22 of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, placarding violations and obstruction of justice stemming from an explosion at an oil and gas processing facility in Wibaux, Montana, in 2012.

On Dec. 29, 2012, a driver for Woody’s Trucking loaded natural gas condensate, or “drip gas,” from a pipeline station with a bill of lading that identified the product as “slop oil and water,” a non-hazardous substance. However, while the driver was pumping from the truck’s front tank, a fire ignited, injuring three employees at Custom Carbon Processing.

The tanks on the truck burned for eight days before the local fire department could determine it was drip gas and not slop oil and water that was burning.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Montana, witnesses testified that Wood directed the driver to place a falsified bill of lading in the burned-out truck several days after the explosion in order to cover up the fact that the company was hauling drip gas without placards. The company also had no insurance coverage for hauling drip gas.

Woody’s Trucking was later sued by CCP and submitted the lawsuit to their insurance company for payment of costs, attorney fees and payment of the eventual settlements. The insurance company agreed to pay the claims, but maintained there was no insurance to cover hauling drip gas.

“Mislabeling and submitting false documents to conceal the presence of explosive material on public highways are serious criminal matters that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme. “As this case demonstrates, the failure to properly disclose and label hazardous materials can endanger lives.”

A sentencing is scheduled for October. Wood faces a maximum of 145 years in prison and fines totaling $3.5 million.