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Montana Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Transportation of Hazardous Materials

On May 13, 2015, Kelly Steen, of Baker, Montana, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Billings, Montana, to the illegal transportation of hazardous materials without placards. Steen was indicted in October 2014.

On December 29, 2012, Steen, a driver for Woody's Trucking, loaded natural gas condensate, or "drip gas," from a pipeline station that transports products from the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota. The drip gas was hauled from Watford City, North Dakota, to Custom Carbon Processing, Inc. (CCP). CCP is a slop-oil processing/recycling company based near Wibaux, Montana. The bill of lading that accompanied the shipment identified the product as "slop oil and water," which is a non-hazardous substance.  However, while Steen was pumping from the truck’s front tank into the CCP facility, a fire ignited, injuring three employees. The tanks on the truck burned for eight days until the local fire department could determine that they held drip gas and not slop oil and water, as indicated on the bill of lading. Drip gas is a hazardous material and the truck was not placarded to indicate it held a flammable liquid.

We conducted this investigation with the Environmental Protection Agency - Criminal Investigation Division.