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Gunpowder Maker Agrees to Quit Business After Deadly Explosion

The head of a gunpowder company that shut down after two of its workers were killed last year in a New Hampshire factory explosion has agreed never to return to the explosives business.

The unusual enforcement pact was reached between Craig Sanborn, the Vermont-based president of  Black Mag LLC,  with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Black Mag — whose operation in Colebrook, N.H., the site of the deadly May, 2010, blast, was known as Millennium Design Muzzleloader — also agreed to quit the explosives business.

As the Manchester, N.H., Union Leader reports, Jesse Kennett and Don Kendall, who had been on the job for a month, were manufacturing a gunpowder substitute when they were killed in an explosion that rocked the downtown area of the community. The operation never reopened.

“Neither Black Mag LLC nor Mr. Sanborn will ever again place employees at risk in any kind of business that uses or makes explosives,” said Marthe Kent, New England regional administrator for OSHA, in a news release.

Last October, OSHA fined Black Mag LLC $1.2 million for 54 safety and health violations, which the company said then it would “vigorously contest.”

According to OSHA, however, Black Mag has now withdrawn its notice of contest and has agreed that it violated the OSHA Act.

“While nothing can ever bring Jesse Kennett or Don Kendall back to their loved ones, this resolution is designed to prevent future deaths or injuries,” said Michael Felsen, the Labor Department’s regional solicitor for New England. “It includes a provision that will allow the Labor Department to charge Mr. Sanborn with contempt in federal court if he violates the terms.”

An OSHA spokesman said the New Hampshire fire marshall and state police still are investigating the case.