North Country
4:35 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Ten To Twenty Years For Operator Of Colebrook Plant That Exploded, Killing Two

Broadcast version

A Vermont man found responsible for the 2010 explosion in Colebrook that killed two men and injured a third is going to prison for at least ten years.

Late in October a jury found Craig Sanborn guilty of two counts of manslaughter and Wednesday in Coos Superior Court he was sentenced.

“The court sentenced Mr. Sanborn to five to ten years incarceration on each manslaughter charge to be served consecutively for a total of 10 to 20 years,” said Stephen Murray, the assistant Coos County attorney.

Judge Peter Bornstein also denied Sanborn’s request to be released on bail during his appeal of the verdict.

Sanborn was accused of not providing proper safeguards at the Black Mag factory in Colebrook that made a gunpowder substitute.

An explosion at the plant killed Don Kendall and Jesse Kennett.

Sanborn, of Maidstone, Vermont, denied responsibility for the accident saying he was out of state when the explosion occurred.

In a written statement late Wednesday U.S. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said “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.”

Officials from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration have said they were not aware of the plant before the explosion.

After the deaths the agency investigated and concluded there were so many serious, willful safety violations at the plant it fined Sanborn $1.2 million.

But later, amid doubts that Sanborn had the money OSHA settled, dropping the fine in exchange for Sanborn’s promise never to be involved in such manufacturing again.

A review by NHPR of OSHA inspections later found the federal agency rarely conducts inspections in Coos County.