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Idaho man sentenced after admitting to illegal repairs on fuel tankers

Idaho man sentenced after admitting to illegal repairs on fuel tankers

The owner of a tanker testing and repair business has been sentenced to a month in prison and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine for lying to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about an illegal repair to a fuel tanker that resulted in a 2018 explosion that severely injured him and another worker.

Loren Kim Jacobson, 65, of Pocatello, Idaho, owner of KCCS Inc., also pleaded guilty in May to violating the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, admitting he had conducted unsafe repairs on fuel tankers without having an “R stamp,” which requires extensive training, according to the sentencing memorandum. Sentencing was handed down Friday.

Jacobson and KCCS have not possessed an R stamp since 2004, according to court documents. 

Court filings state that Jacobson admitted to instructing his employee to weld a patch inside the tank to “hide work done without an R stamp.”

OSHA requires employers to have a permit to ensure the tanks are thoroughly cleaned of flammable materials prior to welding to protect employees who work in confined spaces like these tankers.

According to the plea agreement, the investigation into Jacobson’s business practices was triggered by an explosion in August 2018 after one of his employees pierced the skin of the tanker he was repairing with his welder flame and ignited residual flammable material inside. The tanker had been used to haul fuel. Jacobson also stated that the tanker was slated to be decommissioned and used as a stationary fuel tank. However, federal investigators say the tanker involved in the explosion was scheduled to head out hauling fuel the following day.

After the blast, both Jacobson and the unnamed employee were hospitalized in the burn unit of an area hospital in Idaho. 

“This tragic accident could have been prevented had the defendant adhered to OSHA workplace safety requirements,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez Jr. in a statement. “It is vital that companies follow all health and safety guidelines and ensure a safe workplace for its employees.”

Jacobson’s attorney, Matthew Kinghorn, did not respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment about the sentencing.

In addition to his sentence and fine, Jacobson must spend five months in home confinement and serve three years of supervised release.

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24 November 2021, 21:33