May 22, 2018
Montana Trucking Company and Its Owner Convicted for Multiple Violations Pertaining to Illegal Transportation of Hazardous Materials
On May 22, 2018, following a jury trial in the U.S. District Court, Billings, Montana, Donald E. Wood, Jr., and Woody’s Trucking LLC, of Baker, Montana, were convicted of violations related to the illegal transportation of hazardous materials, mail fraud, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice. Both defendants were charged following an explosion at an oil and gas processing facility in Wibaux, Montana.
On December 29, 2012, a driver for Woody’s Trucking transported natural gas condensate (drip gas) from a processing facility in Watford City, North Dakota, to Custom Carbon Processing, Inc. (CCP), a slop-oil processing/recycling company near Wibaux. The bill of lading that accompanied the shipment identified the product as “slop oil and water,” a nonhazardous substance. However, while the driver was pumping the product from the truck’s front tank into the CCP facility, a fire ignited. The tanks on the truck burned for 8 days until the local fire department determined 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. Three CCP employees were seriously injured in the explosion.
Following the explosion, the CEO of the company, Donald Wood, Jr., directed the driver to place a falsified bill of lading in the burned-out truck to cover up the fact that the company was hauling drip gas without placards. Furthermore, the company did not have insurance coverage for hauling drip gas.
In a civil action, the injured employees sued Woody’s Trucking, CCP’s owners, and others for negligence. Woody’s submitted the lawsuit to its insurance company for payment of costs, attorney fees, and settlements to the injured workers. The insurance company agreed to settle the claims, but maintained that Woody’s Trucking did not have coverage for hauling drip gas.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Environmental Protection Agency–Criminal Investigation Division.