Statement by Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels
on sentencing in fatal gunpowder plant explosion
Editor's Note: This re-issued News Statement clarifies the length of the sentences imposed in the case.
CONCORD, N.H. – Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels today issued the following statement regarding the sentencing of Craig Sanborn in Coös County Court in New Hampshire for manslaughter in connection with the May 2010 explosion at the Black Mag LLC plant, which killed employees Jesse Kennett and Don Kendall while they were manufacturing a gunpowder substitute. Sanborn, who was the company's president, managing member and primary owner, was sentenced to five to 10 years on two counts of manslaughter, to be served consecutively, for a total of 10 to 20 years, and assessed fines of $10,000:
"The disregard for safety cost two workers their lives, and this jury agreed that Craig Sanborn's actions were criminal.
"Sanborn recklessly ignored basic safety measures that would have protected their lives. His criminal conviction and sentence won't bring these men back to life, but it will keep him from putting workers' lives in peril. And it should drive home to employers this message: Worker safety can never be sacrificed for the benefit of production, and workers' lives are not–and must never be–considered part of the cost of doing business. We categorically reject the false choice between profits and safety.
"The Labor Department commends the Coös County Attorney's Office for its successful prosecution. We also appreciate the invaluable cooperation of the New Hampshire Department of Safety, specifically the Fire Marshal and the State Police, during our investigation."
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Note: OSHA's investigation of the May 2010 explosion at Sanborn's Black Mag gunpowder plant in Colebrook, N.H., resulted in issuance of 16 willful and over 30 serious safety violation citations, along with a $1.2 million penalty to Black Mag. The citations and penalties were affirmed in an agreement that compelled Sanborn to surrender his ATF explosives manufacturing license and barred him from ever again employing workers in any explosives-related business enterprise.
State of New Hampshire v. Craig Michael Sanborn, Case No. 214-2012-CR-18 (Superior Court, Coös County)