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Bosses indicted for 2012 Montana oil plant explosion

26 January 2018

A federal grand jury has indicted two Canadian managers of an oil recycling company on criminal charges including conspiracy and endangerment in an explosion that injured three workers at an eastern Montana oil plant. Custom Carbon Processing Inc., its president Peter Margiotta and project manager Mark Hurst face charges of conspiracy, endangerment and Clean Air Act violations. 

They could face up to 15 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the most serious charges. Prosecutors said the two men ignored warnings from a company foreman about hazards at the plant in Wibaux County.

The plant, built on the site of a former disposal well, recycled so-called "slop oil" that comes from oil fields into higher-quality crude oil that could be sold.

The documents say the foreman told the defendants the use of highly flammable natural gas condensate to thin slop oil at the plant was creating a dangerous situation. The foreman attempted to refuse shipments of the condensate, but Hurst ordered him to continue taking them, according to the indictment.

In the lead-up to the explosion, vapours from a condensate shipment spread through the building, reached an ignition source and blew up both the plant and the tractor trailer that had delivered the fuel. Three workers who had been installing insulation were injured.

Margiotta and Hurst also are accused of operating the plant even though they knew it did not have appropriate wiring, ventilation and other safety measures.

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