In December 2012, a major fire broke out at the Michels Disposal Well and Oil Reclamation Facility, which recycled slop oil from Bakken shale and then sold it to other producers.
An explosion had occurred after a delivery of natural-gas condensate. Vapors filled the building, ignited, resulting in the injury of three workers and extensive damage to the plant and truck making the delivery. The fire raged for five days because firefighters didn’t know what the fuel was.
Almost seven years later, Peter Margiotta, 62, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the former president of Michels Disposal, was found guilty of several federal charges that included conspiracy and two violations of the federal Clean Air Act. Margiotta is looking at 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Prosecutors contended he cut corners in building the facility and ignored warnings from a plant manager that the plant was unsafe. Margiotta also chose not to heed repeated warnings from the plant’s foreman that the natural-gas condensate wasn’t working and could result in an explosion, prosecutors said.
After the guilty verdict, Jeffrey Dubsick, regional special agent in charge for the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, said “We believe [the] conviction sends a strong message to those responsible for properly handling hazardous material. Working with our law-enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will continue our vigorous efforts to protect against those who would risk the safety of the public and the environment for personal gain.”