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Don’t abandon Pike River recovery

Written By: - Date published: 10:44 am, January 26th, 2011 - 21 comments
Categories: families, Mining, workers' rights - Tags: ,

A fortnight ago, renowned pathologist National pollster David Farrar excused John Key’s decision to halt the recovery effort at Pike River, smugly stating that the fire meant all that would be left was “some bones and teeth, it could be just teeth”. This ‘there’s nothing left, no point’ line was the Nats’ main excuse for giving up. Even if true, there still would have been extensive evidence of the cause of the disaster but it turns out the National spin was completely wrong.

Families of the miners were shown video footage from the borehole (which the Police have apparently had for some time) of the area where the miners were working. Family spokesperson Bernie Monk says “There are still some intact bodies in there … undoubtedly this will make us push harder to get in.”

It turns out the Police are still at the mine, the Foxal machine is still pumping in nitrogen and the GAG machine has not been returned to Australia, even though Key said that the Aussies wanting the machine back was one of the reasons the recovery was being halted.

The receivers are on board. They have stated they plan to dig several more boreholes into the mine to monitor it and, presumably, these could be used to exchange its methane atmosphere for breathable air when the situation is stable enough as per the previous plan.

All of this makes it odder and odder that the government suddenly decided to break John Key’s promise to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get the men and abandon the recovery operation only a day after it had been successful in sealing leaks in the mine. And it makes you wonder why they gave the receivers just two working days to decide the mine’s fate.

21 comments on “Don’t abandon Pike River recovery ”

  1. John Dalley 1

    At the time of the explosion, a map of the mine appeared in the Herald or on television and i remember thinking that the main ventilation shaft and to me, i thought at the time that there was as awful amount of tunnel part the shaft. It struck me at the time that this could well be the likely cause of the explosion (build up of gas further up the tunnel) and wondered why another ventilation shaft had not been built somewhere near the end of the current tunneling.
    While i am no expert, i expect that if they are going to recover, one, the mine and two the miners then another ventilation shaft will need to be “drilled” and the original repaired.
    I do think that the mine needs to be reopened for both reasons, recovery of the miners and the re-opening of the Pike River Mine.

  2. AndyB 2

    Just a little nit pick. You said: “Families of the miners were shown video footage from the borehole of the area where the miners were working”.

    But yesterday, police said: “Police said the new footage was well away from the areas the men were believed to be working but offered the families no explanation for withholding it.”

    So, really, the miners were not working in the vicinity of the video footage.

    edit: just to be completely clear, i do want the bodies recovered at any cost! this must be a priority for the police and receivers.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      from the article, linked in the post:

      ” Monk said mine experts consulted by the families had confirmed the footage was of an area where some of the men had been working.

      “There are still some intact bodies in there … undoubtedly this will make us push harder to get in.” “

  3. vto 3

    David Farrar should stick to blathering on about Wellington shit and leave the real world to the grown-ups. Wanker.

    Key should stick to money-dealing and also leave the real world to the grown-ups. Dick.

    (apologies for the useless abusive post but it just seems the right thing to say)

    [lprent: There were points in it.. ]

  4. Makes you wonder what else they found in there by way of damning evidence that safety systems and procedures weren’t up to scratch cos no one was monitoring them to the required standard

    The tragedy at the Pike River Coal mine would not have happened if New Zealand had maintained a mining inspector programme canned more than a decade ago, a mining specialist says.

    A chief inspector would have noticed the dangerous levels of gases pooling at the West Coast mine, and the 29 men who died in explosions from November 19 on would still be alive.


    somehow i reckon this is all gonna land on Gerry the hut’s doorstep in a flaming paper bag of shit that he can’t put out or lose the stink from…

  5. The Voice of Reason 5

    Jeez, Eddie, the video footage does not show bodies. Could you not have checked before posting? Bernie Monk has seen footage of an area near, but not adjacent to, where the guys were working. This footage shows undamaged pallets and other materials. Monk has taken from that fact that it means it is possible that intact bodies remain in other areas. He is hoping against hope that bodies remain, but the video absolutely does not show any.

    Please correct your post. It’s simply not true that bodies have been seen.

  6. vto 6

    tvor, it would be probable that now nobody will believe anything about the mine and bodies and what’s in there until it has been entered.

    And how is it unrealistic to expect that bodies may be there if timber (assumed) pallets have survived the supposed 1000 degree explosion and fires? It is in fact entirely realistic.

    Nothing the authorities say now can carry much cred on this matter imo.

    • The Voice of Reason 6.1

      I agree entirely that until we get in there, it’ll never be known for sure what happened. I can only imagine the horror if it turns out that some survived the explosion only to die of suffocation or thirst days later. But that really isn’t likely. The two that survived only did so because they were nearly a kilometre from the explosion and both had some shelter from the blast. The other were not so fortunate and, most likely, died in seconds and were cremated in the fire that followed.

      The families will clutch at any straw, no matter how unlikely, and it appears that Bernie Monk has read too much into what he has seen on the video footage. Remember, the mine is a series of short dead end tunnels, off the sides of longer dead end tunnels, so it is perfectly possible for areas away from the explosion to remain intact. But the area where the 29 were working was where the explosion was, not the side tunnel that the bore hole and video show.

      I just think it’s irresponsible to run a post that suggests bodies have been seen on video, when they absolutely have not been seen.

      • prism 6.1.1

        Bernie Monk seems a very sincere and good advocate for the Pike River people but I thought he was too definite in his interpretation of what he saw. The way that TVoR explains it sounds how it is likely to be.

        • McFlock

          Site of ignition =/= only site of overpressure, especially in an enclosed environment.

          Monk *might* be leaping to conclusions, but not as bad as key.

  7. the real risk for the Government is evidence of men still being alive after the rescue was abandoned.

  8. The reason for so much indecision with the Pike River mine recovery needs to be examined.

    Has it come down to dollars on what happens next? Yes

    Can the coroner establish the actual cause of death and time of death? No

    Do those in charge of recovering bodies know that there are no remains to be recovered? No

    Is it possible to get into the mine and survey the damage? Yes, but devices are required due to the level of gas and new entry points.

    Were substances in the shot crete used to line the tunnel deemed to be safe (some secret substances were used in the mix)?

    Why is there so much indecision by those in charge of stabilizing the mine?

    Why are the public being told that the GAG was to go back then it is not going back?

    Why are the families only going to be being given a summary of the recovery operation?

  9. Rockhouse tried to place his rescue equipment on his face before panicking, and falling unconscious. He eventually recovered consciousness and reached a fresh air valve and a phone to alert mine staff above.

    …two miners had failed to remove their identification tags upon exiting the mine. Identification tags are left on a board by miners and contractors upon entry to the mine.

    A contractor had also failed to place his tag on the board before entering the mine on November 19.



    so not only did mine boses not know who was coming or going by not enforcing the most basic of procedures but they had to be told by a recovering miner that there was even an explosion

    what happened to the alarms and bells and whistles and inspections to say…”HEY, THIS PLACE IS A FATAL ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN ???”

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      what happened to the alarms and bells and whistles and inspections to say…”HEY, THIS PLACE IS A FATAL ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN ???”

      Oh THOSE? Thought we could save a few hundred thousand by not bothering with all that pointless *red tape*.

      • Jim Nald 9.1.1

        Oh, is that like the one about wasting money on paying officials and bureaucrats to safeguard workplace safety and hazards? Or increasing compliance costs for businesses?

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