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Occupational Manslaughter.

Midland Environmental Services, Inc., and the company's owner, Edmund D. Woods, pled guilty to criminal manslaughter charges in connection with the 1994 fatality of an employee, Michael J. Rennenberg.

The plea represented the first time in Michigan history that an owner was held criminally responsible for a workplace fatality.

On December 8, 1994, Michael J. Rennenberg, an employee of Midland Environmental Services, Inc., was killed when an explosion occurred during a cutting operation on an underground storage tank which had previously contained a petroleum product.

At his plea hearing, Woods admitted that he was supervising the work activities on the day of the explosion, that the workers were using the wrong cutting device, and that the device ignited the spark which caused the explosion.

"Edmund Woods consistently and blatantly ignored basic [safety] regulations, and refused to provide a work environment free from hazards," says Kathy Wilbur, director of the Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services (CIS).

Both Woods and Midland pled guilty to attempted involuntary manslaughter and willful criminal violation of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The guilty pleas carry a maximum criminal penalty of $35,000, and a maximum prison term of five years. Sentencing on all four counts is scheduled for late December.
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Author:Mokhiber, Russell
Publication:Multinational Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U3MI
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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