Engineering Company Owner Gets Prison in Explosion Probe

The owner of a civil engineering firm has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from an explosion at his company’s facility more than three years ago.

The case began after the Aug. 2018 incident at KCCS Inc., an Idaho tanker testing and repair company owned by Loren Kim Jacobson. Prosecutors said a KCCS employee was welding during a cargo tanker repair procedure when the flame pierced the tanker and ignited residual material inside. The employee was severely injured in the blast.

During the subsequent investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Jacobson told investigators that the injured welder was an “observer” rather than an employee, and that, furthermore, the company did not have any employees at all — apparently an effort to evade OSHA requirements that apply only to employers.

Prosecutors also said Jacobson made numerous other false claims to investigators, including that he had used a meter that could have detected the explosive fumes.

Under the plea deal, Jacobson acknowledged that although the company routinely conducted cargo tanker repair, he did not possess the federal safety certification required to do so. He would also send employees into the tankers themselves in order to conceal illegal repairs, and wrote plausible pressure test numbers instead of actually testing tanks’ valves. He lied to a federal Department of Transportation inspector about the latter.

Jacobson pleaded guilty to lying to OSHA and to violating the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. He was sentenced to one month in prison, five months’ home confinement and three years of supervised release, along with a fine of $15,000. The charges could have carried up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 each.

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