Montana trucking company owner sentenced for hazmat explosion incident

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 11/13/2018

A Montana trucking company owner and his company have been sentenced after a jury found both guilty of lying about insurance coverage for hazardous materials following an explosion that injured several people, according to federal court documents.

On Nov. 9, Donald Wood and his Baker, Mont.-based trucking company, Woody’s Trucking, were sentenced after a jury found both guilty on 13 of 14 counts, including seven hazardous material transport violations. Both were found not guilty on an eighth hazardous material transport violation.

Donald Wood was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release. He also must forfeit $644,689.70. Woody’s Trucking was sentenced to four years of probation. Wood and Woody’s trucking will split the restitution, each owing $322,344.85.

On Feb. 6, 2012, Wood and Woody’s Trucking entered into a miscellaneous work agreement with Durango, Colo.-based Saddle Butte Pipeline, which has a natural gas processing plant in North Dakota. Per the agreement, Woody’s Trucking agreed to transport hazardous natural gas condensate liquid to oil processing plants in Montana.

Three days later, Wood submitted a copy of the agreement to his insurance company to add Saddle Butte Pipeline as an additional insured party. However, Wood failed to disclose the fact that his trucking company would be transporting hazardous material.

Since 2004, Woody’s had obtained insurance from the same company, renewing every year. Wood did not indicate that his trucking company would be transporting hazardous material, thereby reducing the cost of his insurance.

In addition to misrepresenting his cargo to the insurance company, Woody’s also violated federal regulations requiring proper shipping papers and placards. Hazardous material shipping papers were falsified to prevent investigation.

In all of its annual insurance renewals, Woody’s Trucking stated that the commodity it transported was “KCL water.” Woody’s never mentioned anything about hazardous materials in these renewals.

However, Woody’s did in fact transport hazardous material, including a shipment on Dec. 29, 2012. It was on that date when an explosion occurred during the offloading of hazardous natural gas condensate being transported by Woody’s, according to the federal indictment. Three people were injured and extensive damage was done to the receiving facility.

In an attempt to cover his tracks and maintain insurance coverage, Wood told his insurance company that his trucking company was transporting “slop oil and water” and was not aware he was hauling hazardous material. This is when Wood falsified shipping documents to back up his claim.

From February 2012 to December 2012, Woody’s illegally transported hazardous material for Saddle Butte Pipeline on at least 16 occasions using two drivers. Neither driver was Wood himself. The driver involved with the explosion incident was instructed by Wood to list “slop oil and water” in the bill of lading and slip it inside the truck, giving the appearance the document had been there during the shipment.

In November 2017, Wood and Woody’s Trucking were charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of wire fraud, four counts of transporting hazardous materials without placards, four counts of transporting hazardous materials without proper shipping papers and one count of obstruction of justice. A jury found both guilty on all but one charge in May.

A driver for Woody’s Trucking was sentenced to three years of probation in 2015.

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