State cites oil pipeline contractor after worker’s death in northern Minnesota

The employer of a man who was run over by a large forklift while working on a northern Minnesota oil pipeline project has been cited by state regulators and fined $25,000.

Jorge Villafuerte III was checking a list of materials at the Enbridge Energy Line 3 site near Hill City while standing behind an industrial forklift when it backed over him. The 45-year-old Villafuerte died while emergency responders were en route to the site, authorities said.

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration in May cited Eau Claire, Wis.-based Precision Pipeline for a serious safety violation. Under Minnesota law, companies with over 50 workers are hit with a minimum fine of $25,000 for an incident involving a fatality, the Star Tribune reported.

Precision Pipeline is contesting the citation. The company did not immediately return the newspaper’s requests for comments.

Line 3 starts in Alberta and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing northern Minnesota en route to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wis. The 337-mile line in Minnesota is the last phase in replacing the deteriorating pipeline that was built in the 1960s.

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