Donald Wood and his trucking company, Woody’s Trucking LLC, were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Billings on Nov. 9.
Wood and his company were convicted on 13 of 14 felony counts resulting from the 2012 explosion at Custom Carbon Processing in Wibaux. On Dec. 29, 2012, a driver for Woody’s Trucking loaded natural gas condensate in Watford City, N.D., and hauled it to Custom Carbon Processing. The product being hauled was falsely identified as “slop oil and water,” a product that is identified as a non-hazardous substance.
While pumping from the truck’s tank, flammable vapors of the natural gas condensate ignited, causing an explosion and injuring three employees. Subsequently, the tanks on the truck burned for eight days, which prompted the discovery that the tanks were filled with natural gas condensate, not slop oil and water. The truck was not placarded to transport flammable hazardous material.
Witnesses testified that Wood directed the driver to place a falsified bill of lading in the burned truck to cover up the fact that they were hauling flammable material without proper placards. Both Wood and Woody’s Trucking, LLC, were convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice and hazardous materials shipping paper and placarding violations.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced Wood to one year and one day in prison, three years of supervised release. Woody’s Trucking was sentenced to four years of probation. Wood and Woody’s Trucking were also sentenced to pay $1,289,370.40 in penalties. This sentence is subject to appeal.
Susan Bodine, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said, “The defendants in this case not only violated federal transportation regulations, but also tried to cover up their actions by providing first responders with falsified documents. Companies managing hazardous chemicals should take notice that EPA and our law enforcement partners will enforce laws designed to protect our communities and the environment from chemical accidents.”