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Expert report shows urgent need for Pike River re-entry discussions

Written By: - Date published: 3:47 pm, December 13th, 2016 - 48 comments
Categories: disaster, health and safety - Tags: ,

A media release from Stand With Pike.

Pike Families have today released a new plan for safe re-entry of the Pike river drift written by Dr David Creedy, Vice Chair of the UN Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane, and Bob Stevenson, former UK Principal Mines Inspector.

Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son Ben in the disaster, says the new plan shows it’s time the Government sat down and negotiated re-entry. “This isn’t just about getting our boys out, it’s about getting into the drift to get evidence of what happened down there.

“This report makes it clear that there is likely to be evidence down there that could save other lives around the world. We want justice for our boys, but we also want answers that could save other people’s sons and husbands.”

The report has been peer-reviewed and endorsed by the United Kingdom’s leading mines rescue expert Brian Robinson, and by mining ventilation experts John Rowland and Dr Roy Moreby who has advised Solid Energy on re-entry of Pike River.

Bernie Monk, who lost his son Michael, says Bill English needs to show good faith with the families and with New Zealanders. “We’ve got this far because Kiwis have backed us. Mr English needs to realise that we won’t accept him giving us the brush-off with promises of a meeting at some later date. We’ve put up with that kind of stalling and game-playing for six years.”

Anna Osborne, who lost her husband Milton, says the promises made by the last Prime Minister should be kept by this one. “For six long years we’ve been waiting to see that promise kept, and all the time they were just creeping towards sealing away our boys forever. We’ve stopped that happening now we control the road to the mine, but we want this stalemate resolved. This expert plan is how Mr English can solve it.

Dean Dunbar who lost his son Joseph, says they have waited too long. “We’re done with letting the Government buy time while they wait for us to go away. We’re not going away until we get a proper independent hearing on re-entry and a promise not to seal the mine until we are satisfied John Key’s promise to do everything he can has been met.”

Families are in Wellington until Wednesday evening and will be meeting with the leaders of other political parties during this time. They are willing to meet with Bill English at any time and any place he is available.

The reports

48 comments on “Expert report shows urgent need for Pike River re-entry discussions ”

  1. Paul 1

    Spot the National MPs standing with Pike.

    • Cinny 1.1

      Thanks Paul for posting the link of the speeches, really appreciate it. No media bias in this version, fantastico.

      Damo is passionate about his electorate and it shows in his words and the reception from the crowd. The families have a plan and obvious support, if the plan was no good they would not have this much support across a number of political parties and independent experts in the field.
      Will Bill the outgoing PM meet with them with an open mind? Or is he simply too busy, Bernie will meet with him any time any place, is Bill showing his true priorities at the moment, seems like it.

      So proud of these families, what a battle, so much of the country is on your side. Kia Kaha to all

  2. rsbandit 2

    Winston wants to go in.

    I’m fine with that, actually.

  3. Ad 3

    Do the plans void the liability of Company directors for the death or injury of anyone else who wants to go down this mine?

    [As the plans are linked in full in the post, you can read them and answer the question yourself before making trollish little jabs. – Stephanie]

    • adam 3.1

      Can I get a clarification on what you are asking Ad?

      Wouldn’t the organisation who takes on the task be the one who is ultimately responsible for liability in relation to injury or death on reentry?

      Oh wait, worker don’t have rights under this Tory government…

      • Cinny 3.1.1

        I think Ad means when they search the drift will the directors be liable for any injury or death when Winnie goes in

        • weka 3.1.1.1

          So the directors of the company that owns the mine, or the company that does the search?

          • Cinny 3.1.1.1.1

            It was said today if solid energy did not own the mine anymore they would not be liable for death if the drift was re entered.

            These incredible experts have said all risks that solid energy claimed could happen if the drift was re-entered, would now be able to be managed.

            At a guess maybe the directors of company doing the search would have some sort of legal waiver in place. After all body recovery and search and rescue isn’t a new thing so surely there would be legal measures in place to address such an issue, or maybe it is a risk that is now able to be managed.

            • weka 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Pretty much. I think also that whatever the risk, people can make the decision if they want to take that. As you say, SAR people do that already.

    • DH 3.2

      I think the mods need to apply a rule that anyone opposing the mine re-entry must show they’ve actually read the re-entry plan and have a rational argument against it.

      This endless trolling about safety and liability is getting irritating and deserves a few permanent bans IMO.

      • Sam C 3.2.1

        Yep, shut down any rational argument contrary to yours. Seems sensible.

        Last time I checked, you can’t contract out of the Health and Safety in Employment Act, so talk of any “legal waiver” by the likes of Cinny at 3.1.1.1.1 is complete nonsense.

        • DH 3.2.1.1

          You haven’t read the re-entry plan have you Sam C … or is it you’re just a lemming who can’t resist making a fool of himself when the opportunity arises.

          It’s only 7 pages, go ahead and learn something new for a change.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1.2

          If you’d read the plan, foolish Sam, you’d know that section 5 covers exactly that issue.

          There is no ‘legal’ barrier to prevent recovery of this Drift under a specified ’emergency’ health and safety management system.
          Reference: Reg 170, in particular Reg 170 (3)(a) ….no requirement for a second egress if work is being conducted “under the health and safety management scheme” …. i.e. to recover the Drift, or, Reg 170 (3)(b) …. in a single- entry drive (which the Drift is).

          So on the one hand, you’re wasting everyone’s time. On the other, I never get tired of watching right wingers display their ignorance and arrogance to go with their complete lack of empathy.

          • Sam C 3.2.1.2.1

            I’m unsure whether you are being willfully stupid, or just spoiling for an argument.

            I have read the report. Point 5 is nonsensical and doesn’t address the issue I have raised one iota. Solid Energy owns the mine. The directors of Solid Energy are liable for health and safety matters arising from the site. The fact that there may not be a requirement for a second egress is neither here nor there.

            To summarily state that “there is no “legal” barrier…” and ref some random regulations would not give me sufficient comfort that I had discharged my statutory health and safety obligations if I were a director of Solid Energy.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1.2.1.1

              Which is why the plan states that:

              As the Families’ experts and SENZ Board cannot reach a joint position then only the Government can decide what the future of this mine is. The legal implications of who the future Owners/Operators of the mine would be should be considered as soon as possible.

              Perhaps you didn’t read that far.

              • Sam C

                Oh yes, I read it all.

                You’re changing the goalposts again and not addressing my original point. Good diversionary tactic though.

                It really cracks me up how so many on this site were screaming for changes to tighten up H&S legislation, but when it happens, you then want to ignore the changes, because the outcome doesn’t suit your motivations.

                • DH

                  You haven’t read it Sam C, if you had you wouldn’t keep squawking about liability.

                  • Sam C

                    It is 7 pages. A 5 year old could read it.

                    Which is why it won’t produce the change of heart that the Pike families wish for. It is lightweight in the extreme.

                    • DH

                      And you expect us to bow to your superior knowledge huh Sam C. Sam C, commentator on a blog, deems the plan to be lightweight and since he’s, well, Sam C, we must all accept his judgement uncritically.

                      It looks to me like a 5 yr old did read that plan, try harder mate.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  It really cracks me up that you think telling lies about what people are saying is a clever debating strategy.

                  Link to the comments that say we should ignore health and safety legislation, or withdraw your lies. Put up or shut up.

    • s y d 3.3

      Now I had to go away and do a bit of reading on the whole liability issue of directors, because it’s being used as a possible excuse to avoid action.
      The H&S at Work Act is pretty clear that directors do have duties as PCBU’s, but those duties are not to avoid every single risk, otherwise nothing would ever happen anywhere.

      The duties are…
      (a) to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable; and
      (b) if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risks to health and safety, to minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

      So if the risks are known, and a due diligence process followed such that risks are minimised, then the liability excuse falls away. Seems that the plan above would meet the “as far as is reasonably practicable” test?

  4. ”The issue here is around the safety of the mine and under the law the decisions have to be made about the safety of that mine by the people who are responsible for it, not by the politicians,” English said.”

    Stated today within two days of becoming the new Prime Minister , Bill English seems to be attempting the same thing Key did when he was PM.

    However , hiding behind Solid Energy as if the law was in deference to a state owned company , – rather than taking responsibility for being in the highest office in the land will no longer wash. It is simply not true that English’s hands are tied by the law. If that were true there would be no need for a Prime Minister or indeed of parliament itself .

    When one considers the extreme haste and ability of ex Prime Minister John Key in passing retrospective legislation designed to achieve a desired outcome such as the labour laws regarding the actors union to facilitate Warner Bro , – or the retrospective laws passed after the Kim Dotcom affair regarding surveillance and the increased powers of the state to spy on its citizens , – English can hardly hide behind using a state owned company as a excuse for inaction.

    Solid Energy and Worksafe are not the bodies that pass legislation – parliament is. And state owned company’s are absolutely subservient in their role.

    The situation for Pike River reentry has radically changed over the last few days. Now, the law favours the family’s with exclusion of Solid Energy under threat of trespass if they try to force their way to the mine .

    Furthermore , a feasibility report and plan for a successful reentry into the drift has been obtained by some of the worlds foremost leading experts on rescue and recovery operations following a coal mine explosion. And they state emphatically that it can be done.

    Contrast that with the bloody minded point blank refusal of Solid Energy to even consider entering the drift and a government that conveniently played along with that bloody-mindedness . Mounting evidence will only serve to make any decision not to enter the drift appear more and more as if there is something to hide.

    The report states that ‘ The authors said they accepted Solid Energy would not accept their proposal. Therefore, only direct Government intervention could decide the outcome.

    “It would appear that re-entry would only proceed if [Solid Energy] no longer had any responsibility for the mine.

    “A new ownership structure will therefore be required to allow the re-entry to proceed.”

    John Key advised Bill English two or three months beforehand of his resignation. It was not long after that , that we heard that Solid Energy under the prompting of Worksafe NZ had made the arbitrary decision to permanently seal off Pike River by February 2017 … the same year of a general election and under the helm of a new Prime Minister ,… that some would say was more given a coronation rather than elected.

    Therefore in order to dispel any cynicism ,… it would be well for the current PM to do whats right , cast off the albatross from around its neck , take responsibility as a government and act on advise given by the eminent mines experts report and reenter the drift at Pike River.

    Only then will the ‘ weeping sore’ as it has been described have any chance of being healed.

  5. greywarshark 5

    John Cam[bell on Radionz had full discussion with an experienced mine engineer who knows about gassing, then attempted once again to contact Solid Energy but couldn’t get past the drift line in their offices. No chance to gas with them he he!

  6. alwyn 6

    Given the enthusiasm of Little and Peters to go into the mine, and the problems Solid Energy seem to have with legal liability could we do the following?
    .
    Set up a company whose only asset is the Pike mine.
    Appoint Little and Peters as the responsible directors.
    Let them authorise the re-entry.
    Insist that they take all the legal liability if anyone is hurt.
    Provide them with a reasonable budget but make sure they can’t rip it off to pay for their election campaigns.

    Watch Little and Peters run for cover.

    [This post is not about Andrew Little or Winston Peters, and it’s frankly shameful how many people think it’s appropriate to troll here. The families have provided a plan and experts willing to undertake re-entry. Unless you’re a mines rescue expert yourself, enough with this crap. – Stephanie]

    • alwyn 6.1

      Wild Katipo in a comment just above pointed out what the authors of the report had said. In the comment

      Expert report shows urgent need for Pike River re-entry discussions


      He pointed out that the authors believed

      ““It would appear that re-entry would only proceed if [Solid Energy] no longer had any responsibility for the mine.”
      “A new ownership structure will therefore be required to allow the re-entry to proceed.”

      I was merely suggesting a way to achieve the requirements that the authors of the report had said were necessary.

  7. Some interesting perspectives from posters at Kiwiblog ,from the same person who owns the market research company Curia, the same who was instrumental in monitoring the polls and using focus groups to give the PR edge to the National party :
    ………………………………………………..
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has offered himself to be the first to re-enter the Pike River mine where 29 miners perished in 2010.

    Peters told families gathered at Parliament today that he’s read the safety reports and he’s willing to go in.

    I say we accept the offer and then seal the mine.
    …………………………………………………

    Seal him in? That’s outrageous! No, I reckon we should just send him off with a pack of Benson & Hedges and a lighter…
    ………………………………………………….

    I agree, along with the pack of Benson & Hedges and a lighter, he should really go in with a cut lunch just in case it takes a while !~
    ………………………………………………….

    What a fuckwit Winston first is showing himself to be. Let him be the first, closely followed by Bernie Monk, Angry little, Material Turei and any one else wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

    It’s safe don’t you know.
    ………………………………………………….

    Save money on installing the seal and just jamb the material girl halfway down the drift?
    ………………………………………………….

    Good cost saving measures Holy. I like it.
    ………………………………………………….

    Winston has only got one ball.
    Chuckies are very very small, but
    Poor Bernie and Angry have no balls at all ……..

    • Tricledrown 7.1

      Channelling Trump

    • Johan 7.2

      To: Wild Katipo
      Typical comments of those Tory rednecks, nothing but greed, and without conscience.

    • James 7.3

      It is rear I agree with you – but I thought that post was in very poor taste. Hav t read the comments.

      • WILD KATIPO 7.3.1

        And this is supposed to be the the more’ middle’ of the road blogsite for the right wing.

        This is the site run by David Farrar – the same man who was so instrumental in providing the polling and focus group data to guide Key and the National party PR machine.

        It is a real pity a selection of these comments are not displayed regularly on each issue for public perusal – perhaps then we may have not had to suffer the cheap salesman for neo liberalism we have had to endure wrecking our country for the last 8 years.

  8. Tory 8

    I agree with the reports and entry into the drift should be considered but with strict criteria as to how far, who carries liability and once completed the mine should be sealed.

  9. Red Hand 9

    No evidence for it but I believe this was one of the reasons John Key decided it was time to go. I’ve noticed since about 1985 that powerful people in NZ speak as if the world makes patterns experts describe for them. Like human beings are LIVESTOCK.

  10. Bill 10

    That strikes me as a team of fairly heavy hitters who are endorsing re-entry.

    Having just read the linked reports, the initial take-home message I’m getting is that all of this should have been done some time ago, not just because it’s normal practice but because Pike didn’t and doesn’t present any unusual barriers to re-entry (quite the opposite).

    That the preliminary sealing work has unintentionally created a situation whereby re-entry options are even safer and easier than before, well – that’s just sweet irony.

    I can’t be the only person out here who reckons the whole reason for stymieing any re-entry is simply because of a fear of what might be found. If anything, that reasonable suspicion (the reasonableness being an assumption) should be a dozer blade that shoves aside any remaining objections.

    Nothing to hide? Nothing to fear.

    • Well, … from a purely speculative point of view.. we could look at a few recent timelines and events …

      1) John Key confides in Bill English 2-3 months beforehand that he will resign.

      2) November sees an increased urgency and belligerence towards the Pike River family’s in having the mine permanently sealed off.

      3) John Key announces his sudden resignation.

      4) Winston Peters says on RNZ on the same Monday Key resigned , … ‘that along with other things the economy is not what we have been led to believe it is ‘ … when queried as to why he thought Key had resigned so suddenly stated ” it is because of issues of administration and accountability which we will all be hearing about in the weeks and months to come”…

      5) The almost foregone conclusion that Bill English will become Prime Minister and the manner by which he was ‘recommended’ by Key.

      6) There is to be a general election this coming year ( 2017 ).

      7) The timeframe designated by Solid Energy was to have been no later than February as the deadline for the mine to be permanently sealed off …. happening during and just after the Christmas period when most of the public would still be in their holiday breaks .

      8) The use of the ‘ law ‘ as an insurmountable obstacle . Despite the recommendations by this recent report in dealing with that issue by stating :

      ‘ We accept that the SENZ Board will not agree ours or even their own re-entry plan. Only direct action
      by the New Zealand Government can decide the outcome. It would appear that re-entry would only
      proceed if SENZ no longer had any responsibility for the mine. A new ownership structure under
      government will therefore be required to allow re-entry to proceed. ‘

      …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

      I think you are getting very warm in your conclusions , Bill ,… and that this govt now realizes that, – because of the long period of time they wished to elapse culminating in the final permanent sealing of the mine – they were hoping public interest would simply fade into a sentimental acceptance .

      Except that those plans have now backfired in the governments face and now it has become a problem for National as more and more of the public are seeing this for what it really is.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.2

      This passage in Brian Robinson’s review sums it up:

      Royal Commission recorded as evidence in the official inquiry that recovery of mine sites post explosion is a vital part of any proper investigation,
      providing hard evidence not only to the official inquiry and securing justice for victims, but to discover important technical information for the international mining community to hopefully prevent any recurrence.

      Whilst the Royal Commission was as thorough as possible, it was denied key physical evidence because of the failure to re-enter and recover the mine. Recovery of coal mines following incidents and disasters caused by fires, gas and dust explosions, ground failure and inundation has been safely completed many times to recover victims and vital physical evidence.

      It is therefore inaccurate at a purely technical level for SENZ to maintain that recovery of the Pike River mine is ‘impossible’ because it is ‘unsafe’. It can be made safe once the risks are controlled, and there are numerous recovery techniques available depending on the prevailing conditions.

  11. Sanctuary 11

    Guyon Espiner clearly doesn’t like Winston Peters and he clearly doesn’t like the terribly nice old boys club getting a rark up. Espiner did his best establishment mouthpiece dripping with sarcastic hauteur in his interview with Peters over Pike River just now.

    Whatever you think of Pike River, the metadata that interview tells you about how modern “celebrity” right wing journalists see themselves is revealing.

    • Paul 11.1

      Espiner is not a journalist.
      He is a propagandist, a repeater and an echo chamber for the establishment.
      Missing Kim Hill already.

  12. Lol. Kim Hill hasn’t gone anywhere. And Espiner is a propagandist.

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