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Colebrook company owner could go on trial for explosion, two deaths

Special to the Union Leader

January 18. 2013 12:30AM

LANCASTER - The owner of a Colebrook gunpowder company that was the site of a 2010 explosion that killed two workers and rocked downtown Colebrook could go to trial this spring.

A Coos County Superior Court grand jury early last year indicted Craig Sanborn of Maidstone, Vt., on two counts each of manslaughter and negligent homicide in the deaths of Donald Kendall and Jesse Kennett.

A spokeswoman at that court said Thursday Sanborn is scheduled for an April 14 pre-trial conference. Sanborn could face a jury the following month, but courtroom dates are seldom certain this far before trial.

Sanborn owned the Black Mag plant on May 14, 2010, when a powerful blast ripped through the factory, killing Kendall and Kennett and injuring a third worker.

The grand jury handed up indictments that alleged Sanborn negligently engaged in the manufacture, production, testing and storage of explosive materials.

After the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found more than 50 health and safety violations at Black Mag following the blast, the company agreed to penalties that totaled $1.2 million. The violations included the company's failure to both provide employees with proper training and install federally required safety equipment.

OSHA officials said they had not been aware of the plant prior to the explosion, but later concluded there had been widespread safety problems there and blamed Sanborn.

The company initially contested the OSHA penalties, but withdrew its notice of contest and agreed that it violated the OSHA Act.

The company has certified that it ceased operations "when the 2010 explosion destroyed the facility and put it out of business," according to OSHA, and Sanborn agreed to cease manufacturing explosives.

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