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3:44pm one minute silence

Written By: - Date published: 3:39 pm, November 26th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: Mining - Tags:

One week on from the Pike River disaster:

LATEST: Pike River chief executive Peter Whittall has called on the country to mark one week since the West Coast mine exploded with a moment’s silence at 3.44pm today, in remembrance of the 29 men who died.

14 comments on “3:44pm one minute silence ”

  1. john 1

    In our NeoLiberal economy workers come second to profit, shareholders and the Stock Market,in this case soiled with blood.
    This disaster was certainly preventable in a developed nation that respects worker’s rights and isn’t run like communist China which loses thousands of workers down its mines
    Refer link:
    I lived in the UK which never had a disaster in its mines like this until closed in the 70s and 80s

    The most damning indictment of the Pike River operation has been made by Andrew Watson, the operations manager of the United Kingdom Mines Rescue Operations. Publicly condemning the mines’ safety standards, he told today’s New Zealand Herald that methane levels had to have reached 5 to 15 percent of the atmosphere for an explosion to occur. In Britain, he pointed out, work stopped in mines once methane levels reached just 1.25 percent, and they were evacuated once they reached 2 percent.

    Following the second massive explosion on Wednesday at the Pike River Coal mine on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, mining experts, relatives and friends of the 29 dead miners have condemned the company’s unsafe practices.

    there is mounting evidence that the company sacrificed its workers’ safety and ultimately, their lives, in order to continue extracting the mine’s immensely profitable supply of coking coal. Either the build-up of methane in the mine was not detected prior to the explosion or, if it was detected, workers were sent into the mine for their shift regardless.
    Russell Joynson, a cousin of Australian miner Willy Joynson who died in the explosion, told the Australian that the tragedy would not have happened if the mine had been properly equipped to monitor methane levels.

    Former Pike River employee Brent Forrester, whose close friend Ricki Keane was among those killed in the explosion, told today’s Timaru Herald that “management struggled to maintain the methane levels, and safety concerns he and his crew raised were often ignored.” He said the mine “always had ventilation issues” and his gas detector would frequently go “off the charts”. The paper reported that “he said many of the methane sensors did not work or were not calibrated and the mine’s phone system needed to be upgraded”. Forrester explained that “the reason I didn’t push it too far [with management] was the fear of losing my job. The pressure is always on, they’re losing a lot of money, so they’re making you cut a lot of short-cuts”.

    In an extraordinary self-indictment of his company’s indifference toward the dangers of mining in Pike River and similar areas, Whittall declared: “There is no reason this or any other mine cannot be safe.” He told journalists that the company was ready to “go back” into production as soon as it could find a workforce “who understand the risks and understand the industry”.

    • Swampy 1.1

      What period of time are you talking about in the UK. They have certainly had plenty of mining disasters there.

      Also why is it that the EPMU has made repeated statements they know nothing of any safety concerns.

    • john 1.2


      Here is a link to an almost identical disaster that happened in West Virginia where 25 miners were killed due to a methane build up explosion in 2006. Aggressive safety regulations were imposed by Congress after two deadly mining accidents in 2006,What’s our government doing,nothing,it’s not even recognised that safety has been breached.”As federal safety regulators began to impose more fines”. Where are our unions or regulators to keep Pike River up to safety scratch?
      “Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said it has become clear that the intent to use harsher fines to create a safer work climate for miners is “being subverted by the huge contested rate that has overwhelmed the government’s ability to deal with its caseload.”
      “The company that operated the mine for Massey Energy, called Performance Coal Co., has had roughly 1,000 violations processed since 2007. Of them, 335 are still being contested, while 80 more show the company is delinquent in paying fines that were levied. ”
      “Normally, when federal regulators determine that a mine has shown a “pattern of violations,” the government can tighten the screws, hiking fines or even shutting the mine down until the safety problems are resolved. But while the infractions are being contested, all of that has to wait. ”

      “Roberts made specific note of this point in February, speaking in front of a congressional committee. He wanted to make the point that the consequences of the industry’s delay tactics were not insubstantial. “You must recognize that many of these violations are quite serious,” he said. They are “the kind of violations that have contributed to mine fires, explosions and the deaths of coal miners.”

      Every step of the coal process is dangerous, deadly and unnecessary. Most of the coal that Massey rapes from the earth of Appalachia goes to China and India. Massey does not allow unions on their job sites. Don Blankenship,public enemy #1, should be indicted for murder. Profit and production over people,Don’s mantra!The rest of his co-conspirators should be indicted as well. WV politicians and federal regulators have ignored 1000’s of violations and have created loopholes in legislation designed to protect our world AND ourselves! Why does it always take a huge disaster to wake people up! Do not let these deaths be in vain! Time to close Massey and stop this brutal insanity!

      With our NeoLiberal setup there’s absolutely no one,Unions or Government Inspectors to keep Pike River up to scratch on safety-this is a scandal .Pike River should be being taken to court for workplace safety violations not having its ceo supported! It looks like we have totally sold out to business in this country:they can do what they like.

      • john 1.2.1

        The Pike River avoidable “accident” would never have happened in Germany which has never bought the NeoLiberal garbage that came out of “has been America”. Just to remind you that garbage says workers are just replaceable cost units without any say in their work situation.

        In Germany there would have been a works safety council comprising the Union representing worker’s safety concerns and the same union also up to best safety practice in mines in consultation with management respecting the role workers have to offer profit, shareholders and the “SHARE MARKET”,for god’s sake would be a long way SECOND!

        The inquiry is likely to be just a wishy washy whitewash. Even the NeoLiberal Americans realise without respect for worker rights the federal government has to get involved to protect safety standards! We don’t even have that here!?

        Psychopaths make the best capitalists

        • Swampy

          Wrong thread but that should be “psychopaths make the best ideologues” – from both sides

    • Swampy 1.3

      “The reality of the Pike River disaster, however, is that miners in New Zealand were working under conditions that differ little from those in countries like China, where more than 2,000 miners lose their lives every year.”

      This is rubbish, there is a huge difference between conditions in NZ and in China.

    • Swampy 1.4

      There was a lot of ill informed speculation and nonsense in this article.

      The mines rescue man Trevor has stated that the seam gas drains were breached in the first explosion, resulting in a very large amount of methane being leaked into the mine that was not normally present. Thus increasing the levels of danger in the mine.

      It could easily be contended that the subsequent series of explosions have resulted since the extra bore was drilled through the ground above; perhaps by relieving pressure inside.

  2. higherstandard 2

    A minutes silence should be just that – remove all comments

  3. Fabregas4 3

    Peter Whittal has been getting a lot of plaudits for how he has handled the tragedy. I wonder whether he will be seen in such a way once the review of the mine has been completed. As CEO he is responsible for safety.

    • Swampy 3.1

      If I was that CEO I’d start looking for a new job. Regardless of what happens at the inquiry, even suppose PRCC were totally absolved, there are unavoidable repecussions for 29 killed.

      Compare with Wahine disaster (not long after Strongman). The company and the master somehow got let off the hook but they paid just the same. Within 5 years the master was dead and the company’s passenger business went bust (they got a couple of years’ reprieve with a government subsidy)

      The mine will be closed for a long time and will probably have to be sold.

      • KJT 3.1.1

        Unlike politicians and CEO’s, Ships Masters take personal responsibility.

        • Swampy

          Meaning what exactly? There is no real difference in legislative environment.

          The Wahine inquiry was a whitewash.

          • KJT

            The legislative environment is different.

            Ships Masters have strict liability as do airline pilots and truck drivers. If something goes wrong negligence is legally assumed and they have to prove otherwise.

            Politicians have no legal liability for negligence while in Parliament whatsoever. Recent cases have shown they have very little liability for criminal acts (Such as mis-using their employers funds). Not only that, but politicians do not seem to take any moral responsibility, Unlike Capt Robertson.

            CEO’s, like the CEO of South Canterbury finance, are rarely held personally responsible for mistakes, negligence or even outright criminal behavior. As for moral responsibility they do not seem to feel any as they put another 50 out of work or take their golden parachute from one company they have stripped to another.

            Where, in your expert opinion , was the Wahine report a whitewash?

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