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No one was there to meet them – no one went to help them.

Written By: - Date published: 7:24 pm, July 10th, 2013 - 125 comments
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I am doing a speech on health and safety tomorrow. Been thinking about Pike. Bernie Monk rang yesterday. Bridges is in Gisborne Herald today saying all the reports needed on Forestry have been written. In my speech tomorrow I Will read this bit out from the Inquiry into Pike – it is as powerful as story as there is against his complacency. It should be part of every school curriculum. Those that listened to the victim impact statements for Pike last week will have heard Daniel Rockhouse say sometimes he wished he had died in Pike River Mine (his loved brother Ben did!).

Daniel Rockhouse

36. Nearing 3.45pm Daniel Rockhouse was in the drift en route to stub 2 to uplift the gravel required for road repairs at the ABM worksite. He stopped at the diesel bay at the pit bottom in stone to fill his loader with diesel and water. The loader was parked with the engine running. While he was turning on a water valve there was a bright white flash and he felt an extreme pressure blast. Felled by the explosion, Daniel Rockhouse hit his head and ended up lying on his back. His first impression was that the loader had blown up, but he then realised that the engine was still running, although spluttering. He turned if off. Small amounts of debris fell from the roof and the ribs, although there was no cave-in. Within seconds a pungent strong smell, and dense smoke, reached the area. The atmosphere was warm and breathing became difficult.

37. To escape the effects, Daniel Rockhouse went inbye towards the crushing station. It was clearer, but there was no place of refuge. He donned and activated his self-rescuer and moved back out to the main drift. The self-rescuer did not seem to be working properly so he discarded it. In the drift, next to his loader, he was overcome and fell to the ground again. He shouted out for help, but there was no response. His eyes watered, his body tingled and he thought he was ‘shutting down’. He lapsed into unconsciousness.

38. After some time he revived and sensed that feeling had returned to his fingers and toes. He was shivering with cold from lying in the mud. He tried to roll onto his stomach and push himself up, but he had no strength. Eventually he managed to stand, fell again and then was able to reach compressed air and water lines that ran along the rib. He turned on an outlet valve on the air line. There was only limited pressure, but enough flow to clear the smoke from around him. The fresh air was ‘like gold’.

39. After a minute or two breathing the fresh air and relieving the stinging of his eyes, Daniel Rockhouse looked for a telephone. Just inbye of his loader he located telephone 353 and rang the emergency number, 555. The telephone rang, but no one answered before the call was diverted to an answering service. He then dialled 410, the control room number. Mr Duggan answered the phone. Daniel Rockhouse said he was not injured, but that he could not see or breathe. At this point Mr White took the telephone, was told that the air seemed to be clearing and instructed Daniel Rockhouse to ‘stay low’, get to the FAB about 500m outbye and make contact from there.

40. There is no record of the telephone call, or of its timing. However, it is apparent that Daniel Rockhouse made the call at approximately 4.40pm and that Mr Duggan answered it soon after his call to St John Ambulance. Immediately after Mr Strydom contacted him, Mr Duggan telephoned the MRS at 4.26pm. He then called and spoke to the St John operator until 4.30pm, twice mentioning he had not heard from anyone underground. Had Daniel Rockhouse already rung Mr Duggan, he would undoubtedly have said so.

41. It follows that Daniel Rockhouse was unconscious for a significant period, perhaps 50 minutes or so, after the explosion at 3.45pm until he made the phone call about 4.40pm.

A rescue

42. After the phone call Daniel Rockhouse followed the compressed air and water lines along the rib and proceeded outbye. As he found outlet valves he opened them and breathed in fresh air. He left the valves open, thinking this would improve the atmosphere. About 300m outbye he encountered a vehicle stationary in the drift. A few metres beyond it, he found Russell Smith lying semi-conscious on the ground, with his eyes open, but rolling back in his head. He could hardly speak. He was not wearing a helmet and light. Daniel Rockhouse removed Mr Smith’s self-rescuer from his belt, opened it and tried to insert the mouthpiece into the other man’s mouth. He could not do so. Daniel Rockhouse discarded the self-rescuer, lifted Mr Smith from behind and dragged him outbye towards the FAB.

43. Mr Smith was also in C crew. He had missed the bus to the mine and was late for the 1.00pm start of the shift. He was driving into the mine when the explosion struck. Minutes before he had passed the McConnell Dowell drift runner heading outbye. He received no warning before there was a flash of bright light and a deafening noise, followed by a shock wave. The pressure was unrelenting. In an attempt to escape it, Mr Smith lowered himself to gain protection within the cabin of the vehicle. As breathing became difficult he attempted to remove a self-rescuer from his belt, but he was in an awkward position and could not do so.

44. Mr Smith could remember nothing after this. He had no recollection of his rescue by Daniel Rockhouse. He came to in an ambulance en route to Greymouth Hospital. Subsequently, he realised he had minor pitted abrasions to his face and back. His speech was affected in the short term, as was his respiratory system.

45. On reaching the FAB, Daniel Rockhouse propped Mr Smith up in a sitting position against the rib and said ‘I’ll be back in a sec’ . The FAB was a shipping container converted to include a two-door sealable entrance. Daniel Rockhouse thought it would provide a fresh air source, a telephone and spare self-rescuers. In fact, he found it had been decommissioned.

46. After venting his anger, Daniel Rockhouse returned to Mr Smith, got him to his feet and continued to drag him in an outbye direction. After a time he paused and asked Mr Smith whether he could walk. He tried, managed a few steps, but then fell. Daniel Rockhouse lifted him up again, and found that, if he supported Mr Smith, they could walk in tandem, with Daniel Rockhouse holding the rail of the conveyor belt to his left side for support. Periodically the pair stopped and looked inbye, hoping to see other lights coming down the drift. There were none. Daniel Rockhouse continued to open air valves as they went. To motivate Mr Smith, he told him to think of his family and to keep his legs moving for them.

Two Miners Walk Out of the Portal

47. As they progressed outbye, the atmosphere became clearer and it was easier to breathe. Natural ventilation provided a fresh air flow inbye from the portal. At 5.26pm the two men completed the 1500m walk from the FAB to the portal. From the time of the phone call at 4.40pm it had taken them 46 minutes to walk out of the mine. No one was there to meet them. Daniel Rockhouse used the DAC to call the control room for help. Vehicles arrived at the portal within minutes. Mr Smith was incoherent and Daniel Rockhouse broke down. Paramedics gave both men oxygen and they were taken by ambulance to Greymouth Hospital.

125 comments on “No one was there to meet them – no one went to help them. ”

  1. This needs to be recorded in history, so we may learn from it.

    Safety must never again be left to the tender mercies of the “free market”.

    • Tim 1.1

      Agree Frank – but it’s worse than that!
      That’s the ‘regulation’ part of it.
      The other side of the coin is that we’ve now got an ‘economy’ that’s become too preoccupied with risk management (not just driven by insurers, but often bean counter power trippers), where on occasion – those best suited to carry out the necessary can be prevented from doing so.
      We’ve also got emergency services who are often reliant on unpaid volunteers and donations ffs!
      Supposedly we’re a ‘first world’ country – or so they keep telling us.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        The free-market has successfully dropped us from being a first world country to second and on our way to third and below.

        Lesson: If we want a viable society then we need to drop the free-market BS.

        • TheContrarian 1.1.1.1

          Pretty sure NZ is still a first world country, Draco.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            Maybe but we’re definitely going downhill. Our telecommunications aren’t up to par, our power costs too much, poverty is increasing and inequality is what is seen in Banana Republics.

            • McFlock 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Not too many other developed nations that have our rates of children being admitted to hospital because of skin infections.

              edit: translation – many of our kids get cooties so bad they get admitted to a hospital ward.

            • TheContrarian 1.1.1.1.1.2

              “Maybe but we’re definitely going downhill.”

              OK, but that isn’t what you said, you said:
              “The free-market has successfully dropped us from being a first world country to second and on our way to third and below.”

              “Our telecommunications aren’t up to par?
              Compared to? What are you basing this judgement on?

  2. One Anonymous Knucklehead 2

    Bloody harrowing, frankly. A call to arms, if only there were a way to aim the missiles at stupid.

  3. karol 3

    And that Pike River spokesman was all innocence at the time, and Jonkey all in support of the miners.

    Great effort by Rockhouse to get Smith out.

  4. James Ritchie 4

    Overwhelmingly sad, preventable, now organise. We need an inquiry into forestry which looks at the types of employment and economic pressures on workers as potential hazards and contributors to the death and injury of workers.

  5. Grumpy 5

    So we all agree about this? So why are the Greens dying in a ditch to prevent a goldmine building a second exit shaft for safety reasons?

    • Molly 5.1

      Another way of looking at it is – why did it take so long for this gold mine to design the (required?) secondary exit, given it’s length of operation?

      Or it is not about one particular mine – it is about the erosion of Category 4 protection on conservation land.

      • Rosetinted 5.1.1

        Don’t bother about giving Grumpy any explanatory information – he enjoys coming out with cutting criticisms. It spoils it for him if somebody attempts to put him straight. Painful even when one is so bent to the right.

        • Grumpy 5.1.1.1

          Then what is the point of the post? I agree the mine (both mines) were poorly designed and the companies at fault but you cannot on he one hand vilify the bosses and at the same time deny other bosses the ability to make safety measures.

        • Te Reo Putake 5.1.1.2

          Yep. A bit of a saddo, really.

      • Grumpy 5.1.2

        So, at what stage does preserving a tiny piece of Category 4 trump safety?

        • weka 5.1.2.1

          If you are denied permission to build the thing that makes your workplace safe, and you go ahead and operate the workplace anyway, are you culpable if someone gets hurt?

          All you are doing Grumpy is arguing that mining for economic reasons should trump conservation AND the lives of workers.

          I’m not sure this is the thread to be discussing this though.

        • RedLogix 5.1.2.2

          No, grumpy is talking about the “open cast” Pike River option. Yes it would have been safer, but economically the overburden was so thick it was rejected as an option.

          Nor realistically was it ever a politically viable option. The opposition would have been massive.

          • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.2.1

            No, he’s going on about this:

            “We don’t have issues with Broken Hills improving safety in their mine, but it is unclear why the company need permission to access an additional 3 hectares of Schedule 4 land to do it.

            More BS and lies from the political-right.

            • Grumpy 5.1.2.2.1.1

              No, we are talking about why pike river was not allowed to build a second exit. The only escape route was up a ladder in the ventilation shaft. The small amount of land required was not even schedule 4. now we hav the same issue with Broken Hills gold mine.
              I agree the mine should never have been commissioned but the green lobby cannot escape some responsibility for those deaths.

              • framu

                “The small amount of land required was not even schedule 4.”

                if thats the case im not sure why the greens would have opposed it.

                Seeing as most of us seem to be getting the wrong end of whatever stick your holding here grumpy – care to give us a bit more info?

                • Grumpy

                  Pretty well covered below by Redlogix and BLiP.

                  • vto

                    Your whole line of reasoning there is bullshit grumpy. It also lacks facts.

                    If Pike River could not get permission for a safe enough mine (by way of being allowed a second shaft, which they were if you knew your facts) then they should not have built it. For someone to say “oh we were going to put seatbelts in the car but they were going to cost too much and toyota wouldn’t give us any. But we built it anyway, it crashed and people died. It’s toyotas fault for not giving us seatbelts” indicates no brain in their head.

                    Fucking simple and this horseshit argument of yours carries no weight. And I think you know it.

                    • grumpy

                      I have said several time on this thread that the mine should not have been built given that only having the one exit is plain stupid.
                      Having said that, the Greenies outrage at Broken Hills goldmine wanting to put in a second exit in their gold mine is pure hypocracy.

                    • BLiP

                      Congratulations, you are a moran. Now that the mining company had admitted it requires the use of the conservation estate for safety, it must stop. It would be hypocritical if the Greens said “sure, go ahead, use the conservation land”, which is the exact opposite of what you are arguing.

              • Draco T Bastard

                No, we are talking about why pike river was not allowed to build a second exit.

                [citation needed]

          • Rich the other 5.1.2.2.2

            Redlogix,
            If an open caste operation wasn’t an option then why have the new owners applied for a permit to convert it to an open cast mine ??

            It’ time the environmentalists admitted that they are mostly responsible for this disaster.

    • NickS 5.2

      So we all agree about this? So why are the Greens dying in a ditch to prevent a goldmine building a second exit shaft for safety reasons?

      Given the volcanic geology of the area, cave ins in a well supported mineshaft are very, very low in chance as the rock isn’t as fractured and jointed as sedimentary and metamorphic sedimentary rock strata. Although any dormant or inactive faults going near the mineshaft and passages needs to be taken into account as ceiling and wall failures can be induced by large scale quakes on other, non-contiguous fault systems + general geological weathering due to water seepage. But hardrock mining has been dealing with these issues for ages and the solutions are usually straightforward (supports, supports and geotechnical surveys) and usually only under-funded, local-people or those in areas of high tectonic activity operations are at high risk.

      And as long as there’s sufficient self rescue kit put in the mine, in the off chance there’s a collapse, any trapped miners will probably be safe as this particular mine is only mining gold, so the amount of fuel in the mine for fires should be low. Unless some idiot is using wooden mine props instead of reinforced concrete and ferrocement/shotcrete that is…

  6. Saarbo 6

    Pike had Third World Safety infrastructure, unbelievable.

    Bridges attitude towards safety in the forestry industry is incredibly tough, how does this man sleep at night.

    Having worked in large manufacturing organisations in the 90’s and early 2000’s, Safety was always the first thing on the daily meetings agenda, we always had a real focus on Safety…something has changed.

    It seems that if people are ‘contracted’ as opposed to ’employed’, there is a higher probability they won’t make it back home at the end of a work day.

    • insider 6.1

      I don’t think anything has changed. This was one company. I don’t think it was symptomatic of anything but its poor approach and lax management and inability to deal with a very challenging project.

      Plenty of other companies using the same rules in equally dangerous industries are not killing their staff. So what was different? It’s down to attitude IMO.

      The real challenge is how do you manage for that through regulations without making it much, much harder for other good companies to operate.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        It was a one shaft coal mining company. The attitude was simple, it had to make money or they would have no jobs. There’s the really great quote about how “hard it is to make a man believe something if his salary depends on him not believing it”. That’s the simplest explanation for what happened at Pike.

        This is why there is always a need for an independent regulator who is not captured by the group-think inside the company who has the capacity to not only see what is going on, but take effective action to blow the whistle and stop it.

        Again an ideological 90’s government dismantled that essential backstop.

        • Grumpy 6.1.1.1

          I agree with you Red. The mine should never have been built given the restrictions on safety.

          • NickS 6.1.1.1.1

            It shouldn’t have be signed off actually with the methane removal systems it had, which were inadequate for preventing methane building up to flashpoint. With sufficient, but expensive, coal gas removal systems and working warning systems this shit would have probably not happened.

            But Pike skimped not only on those core fucking features, but also on basic self-rescue kit, all in the name of profit. And frankly whoever is responsible should be facing manslaughter charges

            • grumpy 6.1.1.1.1.1

              …and that, dear readers, is why they are a bunch of a**holes who deserve everything they get.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        This was one company.

        Don’t kid yourself – there’s other businesses out there that are purposefully disregarding safety because it costs money. I know this from listening to my family that happen to be working in fairly dangerous jobs (usually construction).

        The real challenge is how do you manage for that through regulations without making it much, much harder for other good companies to operate.

        You stop whinging about it being too hard and do the bloody job properly.

      • karol 6.1.3

        This was one company.

        Have you been paying attention to the deaths and injuries in the forestry industry, due to poor health and safety provisions?

        • Grumpy 6.1.3.1

          Forestry has some of the toughest health and safety provisions around. It is hard to see how you can make such an inherently dangerous industry safe. Only less dangerous.

          • BM 6.1.3.1.1

            Yeah I don’t think any of these desk jockeys will ever grasp the fact that some jobs are dangerous.
            Forestry is dangerous, construction work can be dangerous, some times people die and it’s no ones fault.

            • Rosetinted 6.1.3.1.1.1

              BM
              You are right. The desk jockeys at management don’t grasp what dangerous work is.
              Comment when ACC was introduced that solicitors fall off their chairs and bruise their elbows, as a contrast to the harsh reality of this work that we at The Standard are considering.

            • insider 6.1.3.1.1.2

              Disagree. You have to put in place practiced to manage the unique risks. A lot of people work in construction and whole projects can occur without injury. It can be done and without ever seeing an inspector.

              Saying death is an acceptable outcome is the worst thing you can do for safety imo. Would you line up your crew at the start of the day and say ‘hey guys, one of you could die but it’s a high hazard industry so that’s ok’.

              • BM

                Some times shit just happens, human error, something unexpectedly breaks.

                Maybe the best thing to do long term would be to robotize any job with the remotest bit of risk.That way if something does go wrong no one dies.

                No one would have a job but at least every one would be safe.

                I heard in OZ they’re trying to bring in a rule that a company director will be criminally liable if any of their staff dies during work hours.
                Pretty fucking terrifying to be criminally liable for some one elses stupidity.

                • RedLogix

                  Yes employees and contractors can do stupid things.

                  I saw one myself up close and personal less than 12 months ago. I really don’t know how we didn’t kill the guy.

                  On the face of it the contractor was working in a space that was simply not safe, he should never have taken the covers off much less put his whole body in there.

                  Yet on later examination I came to the conclusion that the root cause of the accident was that the whole job should never have been undertaken at all. We had available to us an alternate, cheaper and better method that we should have chosen, but due to our own internal issues and lack of communication we failed to realise. Yes the contractor made a mistake, but then again people make mistakes all the time. The problem was that we had unnecessarily created the hazard in the first place.

                  This is typical of the kinds of outcomes when you start looking at the root causes of accidents. Management get to sit safely behind their desks, but it’s other people who their decisions put at risk. This kind of legal reform gives them some skin in the game.

                • KJT

                  Welcome to the real world.

                • KJT

                  Managers and directors should be criminally liable if their cost cutting and negligence causes an accident.

                  At present someone further down the ladder, who most likely had absolutely no control over the causes, gets hung out to dry.

              • RedLogix

                Your argument insider amounts to saying: “Most people will drive at a safe speed and many people drive for decades without an accident, therefore we can do away with traffic police”.

                • insider

                  Not at all. I’m saying that rules and inspectors are not the solution. They have a role but the safest places I have worked go far beyond the rules. The worst have been govt organizations. The difference is management commitment and staff buy in, because regulations and inspectors will nearly always be behind what is going on in the workplace in terms of work challenges or techniques.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    The worst have been govt organizations.

                    IME, it’s always been private organisations that are the worst.

                    The difference is management commitment and staff buy in

                    That always helps, yes but if the management are a bunch of cost cutters and the workers treated badly but need the work then such buy-in just doesn’t exist.

      • rosy 6.1.4

        “I don’t think it was symptomatic of anything but its poor approach and lax management and inability to deal with a very challenging project.”

        I think it still is symptomatic of being able to operate with a poor approach and lax management because there is nothing to stop this approach to business. Legislation, regulation and labour rights are crucial in high risk environments to counter the unreasonable drive for profit at the expense of workers safety (and the environment).

        Legislation, regulation and labour rights weren’t at Pike River to weed out the bad operators and if the forestry industry is anything to go by legislation, regulation and labour rights are still absent from high risk industry. It’s just that in forestry poor business practices are killing workers one by one instead of as a group so the gasp of horror when one falls is absent as well.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      Safety was always the first thing on the daily meetings agenda, we always had a real focus on Safety…something has changed.

      Couldn’t agree with you more. I had exactly the same experience in the 80’s; 9:00am Production Meeting and the Chief Papermaker always had the same words:

      “Are there any safety issues?”

      And the meeting would not progress until there was an action plan and clear responsibility to fix it.

      What has changed is that we’ve substituted procedure, process and paperwork for actual experience, judgement and responsibility. The original 1992 Health and Safety Act (like so many other things that wretched National govt did) was deeply flawed from the outset. While it has achieved some good things, the Act introduced too many other distractions, irrelevancies and blurred overlapping lines of responsibility.

      And yes you are exactly correct about the nature of ‘contracting’. While the Act does ostensibly cover the employers responsibilities for contractors, the very arms-length, transitory nature of that relationship inherently dilutes it. Indeed I have two close acquaintances who are both senior H&S professionals, and I’ve listened to them talk about this at length.

      As one of them put it, quite often contracting is not really any cheaper, but it often appeals to senior management because it appears to reduce their obligations as employers.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1

        As one of them put it, quite often contracting is not really any cheaper, but it often appeals to senior management because it appears to reduce their obligations as employers.

        Contractors should actually be more expensive as the contractor now needs to cover what the business did before and without the economies of scale that the business has. The fact that contracting is, in many cases, paying less than what the wages were before the contracting started is because the contractors don’t know enough about what they should be charging the business.

        • Rosetinted 6.2.1.1

          DTB
          Contracting therefore takes advantage of the small guy without the apparatus of a real business behind him, and loads most of the responsibilities of the company on to his or her shoulders, paying minimally more than wages and it is alleged less in some cases.

          And it weakens the position of dedicated workers for the company. Trying to keep their job, do what’s right and needed with a decreasing work force, and the threat of replacement with contractors if they complain or don’t perform okay (which might end up working late hours at no extra pay, because their joint counterparts in China are doing so).

          In some cases the contracting option works out more expensive than a properly staffed workplace would be, but it seems to have glamour. We can see from some of the bad decisions by management and leaders in the country, judged rightly by studying outcomes, that there are some reckless and incompetent people who have managed to create a climate of acceptability about themselves – someone further down the chain with work failures would be out on their arses.

          • Rosetinted 6.2.1.1.1

            Finished above comment at 9.55 submitted and up flashed closed to remote server or something which I hate seeing. Comment wasn’t lost though thank goodness. But I don’t get that on any other site. But I don’t go to other blogs much so can’t compare Gala with Jazz, stick with Braeburn I say.

      • Grumpy 6.2.2

        All very true Red. Those of us who have been in engineering for many years have seen this triumph of “procedure” over common sense and experience. We used to have “hazards” which were eliminated. Now it seems sufficient to just have “well documented hazards”. I blame ISO9000.

  7. BLiP 7

    And the Prime Minister John Key’s response to the tragedy? Self-promotion, and lie after lie after lie . . .

    the Pike River Mine was consented to under a Labour Government

    no promises were made to get the remains of the miners out of the Pike River mine

    I did not provide a view on the safety of the Pike River coalmine

    I did not mislead the House (3)

    Pike River Coal did not put profits and its production ahead of the safety and lives of those 29 workers.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      BLiP.

      What’s the real story around that consent? My understanding, and it could be faulty, is that the while the company first gained consent in 1998 , the 2000’s Labour govt had allowed this to proceed as an exploratory shaft that was intended to discover more about the nature of the geology and the risks they might encounter. That’s why it was drilled as a single, uphill shaft with absolutely inadequate ventilation.

      It was the 2008 National govt, Brownlee and Key specifically, that decided they needed a high profile “mining industry” (just like Australia) … and they seized upon Pike River as the perfect political opportunity to push the idea. That’s why Brownlee himself opened the mine. The govt made quite a lot of mileage out of Pike River. And why they allowed what was essentially an exploratory shaft to be turned into a production mine.

      • BLiP 7.1.1

        Sorry, dude, not up with the full history of Pike River and its consents other than, as you say, it was National Ltd™ which initially granted consent for commercial mining, although it was in 1997 and not 1998 as Mallard claimed in Parliament. 1998 was the year National Ltd™ consented to conservation land being incorporated into the mining project which, needless to say, kicked off a squabble and on-going discussions with the then dedicated and well-resourced environmental protection authorities. Key’s wiggle room is that these issues were resolved in March 2004 when Labour’s then Minister for the Environment, Chris Carter, approved the access arrangements for Pike River Coal Ltd. So far as the death of the miners and the corruption of the conservation estate, I hold both Labour and National Ltd™ responsible. John Key’s lies are an on-going but separate issue.

        If you want to go into the various details, I recommend that you read the final report of the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy. The Wikipedia page is worse than useless and appears to have been subject to the same sort of National Ltd™ “perception management” practises Crusher Collins was recently caught engaging in.

  8. vto 8

    Pike River is one of the final nails in the coffin for deregulation, self-regulation, unfettered free market and pretty much all neoliberal policy.

    It has been proved by the 29 dead men to not work in the arenas that John Key thinks it does.

    btw, the Paparoa tombstone is sitting in glorious frosty morning sun right now. It still casts a deep sorrowful shadow over the entire area.

  9. Rich the other 9

    This has happened because the labour govt at the time pandered to the environmental green extremists.
    Pike river could and should have been an open caste mine, that’s the real reason for this disaster.
    These extreme environmentalist have blood on their hands.

    • KJT 9.1

      Bullshit.
      It was never going to be an open cast mine. Nothing to do with environmentalists, just costs!

      The idea that Greens stopped a safety shaft is also an outright lie. The mine did have a safety shaft, with no lift, airbases or closoff doors, and too far from the face. Again due to cost cutting.

      What will happen is there will be a lot of hand wringing and finger pointing, then things will go back to business as usual, as soon as it is seen that safety costs money and interferes with the glorious “free market”.

      Like the Motto of Maritime New Zealand. “Safety at REASONABLE COST” or as we used to say on oil rigs, “safety first, after money”.

      • Rich the other 9.1.1

        kjt,
        The new owners have applied for an open cast permit.

        This is on the heads of the green environmentalists, it’s time they were flushed out from the bushes and their part in this exposed.

        Pandering to the green extreme is the sole reason that this mine was an underground mine.
        Stop kidding your self and admit it.

        • vto 9.1.1.1

          Bullshit it is. The 29 dead men are on the heads of people such as you and your distorted blind ideologies of the far right. Arsehole.

          • Rich the other 9.1.1.1.1

            My voting history is labour but Iv’e seen the light, never again.

            If it was my decision, I would have happily approved an open cast mine so don’t blame me.
            Face up to it , show some spine , the environmentalists and the people who pandered to them are to blame for the design of this mine.

            • vto 9.1.1.1.1.1

              Bullshit again Rich.

              You and your far right wing cabal are simpletons with evil results. You do not think through things properly, you do not conduct business properly, you do not act honourably. Each of these things has been shown to be true at Pike River. It is on the heads of you and people like you. You and your attitude caused these men to be killed.

            • vto 9.1.1.1.1.2

              Try and apply your braincells to this. What is wrong here …

              “oh we were going to put seatbelts in the car but toyota wouldn’t give us any. We built it anyway, it crashed and people died. It’s toyotas fault for not giving us seatbelts”

      • Rich the other 9.1.2

        kjt,
        The new owners have applied for an open cast permit.

        This is on the heads of the green environmentalists, it’s time they were flushed out from the bushes and their part in this exposed.

        Pandering to the green extreme is the sole reason that this mine was an underground mine.
        Stop kidding your self and admit it.

        • bad12 9.1.2.1

          Explain your bullshit arsehole, where and when did the new owners of Pike River Mine apply for a resource consent to open cast that mine???,

          Pike River Mine LTD at NO stage ever PLANNED or APPLIED for resource consent to build Pike River as an opencast mine, provide us the proof that they did you lying A/hole,

          The Green Movement stopped nothing at Pike River, Pike River Mine LTD applied for and were given permission to build a second mine egress, a tunnel out to the west,

          This second egress was delayed on numerous occasions not because of ‘enviromental issues’ BUT because Pike River Mine LTD were ‘chasing’ the coal seam, trying to find enough high quality coal to fill existing orders, Pike River Mine LTD were ‘getting round’ to mining the second tunnel ‘at some future point’,

          Your Fucking Lies are simply serving to invoke my anger, not for the simple fact that you are lying, but for the fact that the lies you tell are an insult to those who lost their lives and still lie within Pike River Mine,

          Provide the proof of your absurd assertions or stop making them…

          • Te Reo Putake 9.1.2.1.1

            I’m told tunnelling was the cheaper option at PRC and that opencast was never seriously considered. If they’d wanted to go open cast, they could hace at least applied and seen how the process went. But they never did.

          • RedLogix 9.1.2.1.2

            Yes I get the anger alright. rto has to be one of the more despicable scum we’ve had posting here in a while.

            Virtually every smug, vacuous, banal lie that he writes is meant to provoke a reaction. He’s weak and brings nothing nothing, so he resorts to the cowards way of taunting us from behind the safety his keyboard.

            It’s best just to see him as an object lesson as to what happens when a soul discards it’s moral compass.

          • Rich the other 9.1.2.1.3

            bad12,
            redlogix provided proof of an application to convert pike river to an open caste mine in an earlier post.

            The green movement did influence the govt and pike river with threats of bogging this project down in the courts as they have done with the proposed new Bathurst mine on the west coast.
            Admit it, face up to it , the environmentalists are largely responsible for the DESIGN of the mine, the management of the mine is a separate issue.

            The implied threat , do it OUR WAY or face years in the environment court.

            • Pascal's bookie 9.1.2.1.3.1

              Oh piss off.

              The mine owners weren’t forced into anything. Least of all by bloody hippies.

              They asked for a mining consent, they were given one with restrictions. They then decided to go ahead. No one forced them to. No one held a gun to their heads. They decided to go ahead with the mine. They could have decided not to. The consents didn’t stipulate that they had to go ahead. It was a decision the company had to make. They could go ahead, they could walk away, or they could try and get better terms through the courts. They made their call.

            • RedLogix 9.1.2.1.3.2

              The Solid Energy application simply allowed for the possibility of open-casting. There remain of course considerable barriers to achieving it.

              At the same time PRC never made that call because it was never feasible. The same barriers Solid Energy will have to leap over as well:

              Pike River Coal never asked either the West Coast Regional Council or the Department of Conservation (DoC) for permission to use open cast mining methods, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mine tragedy was told on day five of hearings. Ever since the explosion of November 19, in which 29 men were killed, allegations have circulated that the disaster would have been prevented if only the mine had been open cast, instead of underground via a 2.3km single-entry tunnel through the remote mountainside.

              But Colin Dall, the West Coast Regional Council’s consents and compliance manager, says the issue of open casting was never proposed. “In my review of the council’s records it appears the option for an open cast mine was basically ruled out from the onset, and my understanding is that was because of the economic viability, and the impact of an open cast mine on the ecological values of the area.” He made it clear that the company itself had made that call, and the council had had no input into it.

              Dall’s evidence reinforces that of Solid Energy boss Don Elder earlier in the week, who said at the time of Pike’s planning and development international coal prices were far too low for open casting to be economic, given the depth of the coal seam and the amount of earth moving that would be required to expose it.

              http://www.listener.co.nz/commentary/pike-river-mine-inquiry/pike-river-mine-inquiry-day-5/

              • bad12

                i will have to concede that ‘rich the other’ was not lying about Solid Energy applying for resource consent to ‘opencast’ Pike River, (has such a consent been granted),

                However, no apology will be forthcoming for my mistake as the whole thrust of ‘rich’s’ argument is based upon lying bullshit,

                The facts are that Pike River right from the initial test drilling did not come anywhere near ‘Industry Standards’

                The ‘industry standards’ are not ‘law’ but are the agreed standards of industry players from New Zealand/ Australia and the US,

                The test drilling and core sampling carried out by Pike River Coal LTD was said in evidence to the Royal Commission to be barely a quarter of that required to meet ‘industry standards’

                Thus Pike River was ‘sold’ to investors as $5 billion of ‘premium coking coal’ which culminated in Pike River Coal LTD trying to buy coal off of Solid Energy’s Spring Creek mine in an effort to raise the ‘grade’ of it’s own minings to meet future orders,

                Had Pike River Coal LTD test drilled and core sampled the area of the proposed mine up to or beyond ‘industry standards’ they would have ascertained the knowledge that Pike River was a variable coal seam with ‘pockets’ of premium grade coking coal…

                • vto

                  Yes it gets that simple. It goes like this ……

                  Pike River raised money and spent it drilling to prove the extent of the ore body. They did not drill enough to prove its access. However, this vast ‘proved’ ore body enabled them to ‘sell’ the investment and go to the public to raise money to get underway, which they duly did.

                  But lo, the heads of foolish men came unstuck when they found that the access, which had not been sufficiently proved, had a gigantic lump of granite right in the way of their proposed access tunnel. They of course ran out of money trying to go through this lump of granite and had to go back to their investors, which they duly did.

                  And therein lies the picture of Pike River and they way it conducted itself. Didn’t do the job properly, never had enough money, always cutting corners.

                  This picture will of course be familiar to readers who have followed this folly, as it was this shortcut / do it cheap approach that led directly to the deaths of the men.

                  This picture, painted right back when money was first raised, the drilling was shoddy, and the granite was encountered, is most definitely right at the front page of responsibility of the directors and the chariman John Dow. They set the scene, they made the decisions about how much to spend and where, they painted the picture.

                  • bad12

                    Aha, you just painted the next piece of the picture, from there we move on to the ‘main air shaft’ which in it’s design was sufficient to ensure the mines ‘atmosphere’ could be kept at the correct ratio of Methane Gas to Air so as an explosive mix of gasses could not have occurred,

                    IF the mines explosion was one of Methane gas, and not AMFRO explosives as some testimony to the Pike River Royal Commission seemed to infer, then it is at the point of ‘fixing’ the rock-fall in the main ventilation shaft the seed of such an explosion was sown,

                    The ‘dog-leg’ tunnelled into this shaft to by pass the rock-fall inhibited this main ventilation shaft from being able to move it’s full capacity of air and permission was sought and granted for a secondary air shaft to be drilled,

                    This second air-shaft along with an underground fan-set were duly installed but as mining continued further into the mountain the ‘fixing’ of the ventilation system after the rock-fall in the main ventilation shaft proved to be less than efficient at maintaining Methane Gas levels in the mine atmosphere within known ‘safe’ mining limits,

                    My understanding is that the design of the mine and the consents given were that another ‘main ventilation shaft’ were to be drilled well inside the National Park boundaries and that no objections were lodged by enviromental groups to the drilling of the secondary air-shaft after the rock-fall and the subsequent
                    repairs deemed necessary to the main ventilation shaft,

                    The question here of course is who takes responsibility for the deviation from the original resource consent after the main ventilation shaft was so severely compromised by the ‘rock-fall’ or was it that a series of ad hoc decisions were made to provide a remedy even tho that remedy was not sufficiently robust so as to deliver the outcomes in metric volumes of air-movement of the original shafts design,

                    No-one it would appear deemed it necessary to go back to the consenting authority to ask that the drilling of the already consented 2nd main air ventilation shaft be brought forward and if the original consenting authority knew of the extent to which the ‘rock-fall’ had compromised the capacity of the 1st main air ventilation shaft thus fundamentally altering the conditions of the original resource consent, nothing was done about this…

            • vto 9.1.2.1.3.3

              “Admit it, face up to it , the environmentalists are largely responsible for the DESIGN of the mine”

              ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha you keep exposing yourself as a deluded fool

            • NickS 9.1.2.1.3.4

              Admit it, face up to it , the environmentalists are largely responsible for the DESIGN of the mine, the management of the mine is a separate issue.

              [citation needed]

              🙄

              Not that you’ll provide one due to being a vapid moron.

        • petre 9.1.2.2

          I just came across this thread by chance, and its appalling. Some of the commenters including you are so stupid, and so hoodwinked, it defies logic.
          Pike was never going to be open cut due mostly to in excess of 100m down to coal seam.
          The permit to mine was granted as an underground mine, against all advice.
          Doc also had concerns about the mine integrity at the outset.
          If you muppets did some homework, you would find that Pike had plans to form a 2nd egress as the mine was still in development.
          The need for revenue forced them to move to extraction, whatever the risk.
          Sadly, the mine design was flawed, the managements ability to take advantage of slack laws, and the need to raise cash resulted in this mine being constructed as much a bomb as a coalmine.
          The list of failures (approved and signed off by DOL) was off the scale
          the gasses were through the roof for weeks before the explosion, and nothing was done to correct the problem…the computer screens were just ignored.
          Whittel White Ellis among others should have faced manslaughter charges (as per the opinion of several leading lawyers) but no one face any charges.
          As to the international experts advising Knowles, the actual experts were the same pike management named above, and a women from DOL in wellington, and a top cop in wellington.
          It should be noted the real experts who were on the ground in Greymouth, including experienced mine managers, NSW mines rescue, and Queensland Mines rescue were ignored and not even spoken to for the first few days.
          The wellington woman Lesley Haynes advised the mine site via email “we are to be seen to be doing everything we can, but in fact we do nothing”
          She was caught lying to the royal commission on this point..did she get fired? No she got promoted.
          the list goes on…do some research

      • bad12 9.1.3

        KJT, the ‘second egress’ from the Pike River Mine was in the original plans to be another tunnel out to the West,

        As Pike River Mine LTD slipped closer and closer to insolvency and the emphasis was put on raising coal production the second tunnel was ‘delayed’ by management and to satisfy the ‘Law’ the second egress was ‘declared’ to be the main ventilation shaft,

        Despite the fact that this shaft could only be climbed by ‘fit’ men with difficulty, (and an argument did ensue where a test of it’s efficacy was arranged with mine CEO Whittal who then claimed to be too busy to take part), the mines inspectorate did ‘sign off’ on the severely compromised ventiltion shaft as the required 2nd egress)…

        • KJT 9.1.3.1

          Exactly.
          Money, lack of regulatory oversight and management decisions, (as in most workplace deaths) not environmentalists, was the cause of the disaster.

    • vto 9.2

      Go fuck yourself and your bullshit argument Rich.

      “oh we were going to put seatbelts in the car but toyota wouldn’t give us any. We built it anyway, it crashed and people died. It’s toyotas fault for not giving us seatbelts”

      your brain’s argument is the most empty there is

  10. Rich the other 10

    RedLogix.
    When the mine was opened, prices were excellent , when disaster struck prices had fallen , at that point elders opinion may have been correct, but what part did he play in this , he was solid energy ceo not pike river.

    Solid energy was headed by Elder when it applied for consent to open cast the mine long after the disaster when prices were low???

    The green influence, to quote you.
    ( and the impact of an open cast mine on the ecological values of the area.”)
    The environmentalists influence is the only reason why they never applied for an open cast permit.

    Bathurst is proof of how the environment court process is open to abuse , in it’s case it’s cost the company many millions and several years.

    • Pascal's bookie 10.1

      So?

      They are responsible for the decisions they make. No one else. At no point was a gun held to their heads. At no point did anyone say, ‘you must run this mine’.

      Conditions were put on the mine. They agreed to those conditions, and went ahead. Their call.

    • vto 10.2

      You are a total fuckwit rich. I’m going to repeat the question for you which you will no doubt ignore again because it exposes your complete lack of thinking.

      What is wrong here?????….

      “oh we were going to put seatbelts in the car but toyota wouldn’t give us any. We built it anyway, it crashed and people died. It’s toyotas fault for not giving us seatbelts”

      Got an answer Rich? Or just going to keep ignoring this fatal fallacy in your line of illogic?

      ——————————–

      As for your bullshit around abuse of court process and green objection to mining in sensitive areas – suck on it. It is entirely legitimate to challenge consent applications. Do you not know this? It is not abuse, it is legitimate acts in the course of everyday life and business. And it did not cost the company time and money – for fucks sake man, look what attitudes like yours and companies such as this cost the west coast – 29 dead men.

      29 dead men is what mining companies have done. Oh and a bankrupt solid energy and a bust pike river.

      You’re all at sea Rich, you have no idea. People like you are dangerous. You end up killing people.

      • Rich the other 10.2.1

        vto,
        ( Toyota),
        you seen to be implying that the driver of your Toyota is responsible

        Open caste mining is much safer than under ground mining , that would be my preference, but that’s of no interest to the environmentalists,(the threat, do it our way or spend years in the environmental courts.)

        • KJT 10.2.1.1

          And in this case the mine would never have been open cast anyway, because it would have cost too bloody much, you ignorant fuckwit.

        • vto 10.2.1.2

          Like most right wing fanatics everything needs to be spelled out simply and clearly doesn’t it. And even then, if the facts don’t fit your strange cross-eyed view your simply ignore the whole thing and blunder on, killing people.

          The lack of seat-belts caused the people to die. Why did Pike River allow the car to be driven without seatbelts?

          is that easier for you?

          • NickS 10.2.1.2.1

            He be tr0lling methinks.

            Though given I’ve seen the utter stupidity of young earth creationists, it wouldn’t surprise me either if he believed everything he’s saying….

  11. bad12 11

    In my view a number of those with knowledge of what was occurring in the Pike River Mine vis a vis ‘explosive Methane Gas levels’ should be in the Courts facing manslaughter/murder charges in relation to the deaths of 29 miners,

    The real question here is simply this, ”Did anyone with the authority to call the miners out of that mine on any given day, while having the knowledge/experience that the mine was being operated in an atmosphere of 4-15% Methane Gas to Air disregard that knowledge/experience and not cease the mines operation until such time as the Methane Gas to Air ratio was within a ‘safe ratio’ where it could not explode”,

    The evidence befor the Pike River Royal Commission says it all,”on 20 of the 40 days leading up to the 1st explosion at the Pike River Mine the Methane Gas to Air ratio in the mine was at a level that ANY spark would have caused an explosion,

    The question is then simply one of WHO, with the authority to stop the mines operation who also KNEW on a day to day basis that Methane Gas to Air ratio DID NOT stop that mine operating,

    That person or those people with both that knowledge and such authority as good as held a loaded pistol to the heads of 29 miners and played russian roulette with their lives,

    Whittal,White or anyone else who would have or should have known the consequences of operating a mine with a Methane Gas to Air ratio continually at an explosive level should all be facing charges in a criminal court for manslaughter at the least…

    • KJT 11.1

      To me the buck stops at the top.

      The idiot, “the market will fix it” politicians who de-regulated and abdicated responsibility for adequate funding for and regulation of workplace safety, as well as gutting the power of workers and workers unions to take action on safety issues.

      Leaving it up to the conscience of shareholders, who have no legal responsibility, directors who are rarely held to account for anything, anyway, and managers, whose livelihood, and job, depends on how much they can cut costs, was never going to work.

      Pity we do not have “strict liability” rules for politicians.
      I.E. If the ship runs aground on their watch, they should have to prove innocence.

      • KJT 11.1.1

        As for workers, even if they knew it was dangerous. What do you do when the choice is, go to work and accept the risk, or wind up sacked, and/or unemployed, and on the dole? Doesn’t feed your family either.

        New Zealand is a small place. Whistleblowing will get you blacklisted from employment for life.

        The regulators are the only ones who can address safety without conflicting interests.

  12. Rich the other 12

    Your getting there,
    Environmentalists conditions ,the core of the problem

    (( Conditions were put on the mine. They agreed to those conditions, and went ahead. Their call.))

    Face up to it.

    • vto 12.1

      your head is screwed on backwards

      we were going to put seatbelts in the car but toyota wouldn’t give us any. We built it anyway, it crashed and people died. It’s toyotas fault for not giving us seatbelts

    • Pascal's bookie 12.2

      face up to what?

      That the conmpany looked at the conditions and said, “yep, let’s do it”.

      Your argument would still suck even if Pike River had asked for open cast, which they didn’t.

    • weka 12.3

      Conditions were put on the mine, the mine needed to make money so they went ahead unsafely, hence economic rationales were responsible for deaths. That’s essentially what you are arguing: “we want to make money, so we will take the risk”.

      In our society there is no absolute imperative that economics trumps conservation, which is why DoC still have some vestiges of power.

    • joe90 12.4

      The commission report clearly states:

      Pike River was developed as an underground mine, because open cast mining was not economic owing to the depth of the Brunner coal seam.

      http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz/Volume-One—What-Happened-at-Pike-River

    • bad12 12.5

      Go on then list them, exactly what conditions were put on the mine that caused the management to continue on any given day to operate the mine with Methane Gas to Air ratio’s that were such that an explosion could occur…

    • joe90 12.6

      This too.

      Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall says open-casting mining at the site was never feasible because of the depth of the coal seam and the terrain.

      It has been suggested that if Pike River had been an open-cast mine, the lives of miners would not have been at risk.

      Mr Whittall says the seams are between 110 and 700 metres below the surface, because the size of the mountains above the seam changes.

      Even if the mine was not under conservation land, he says, engineering issues would rule out an open-cast operation.

      http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pike-river-2010/62883/families-shown-video-of-flames-coming-from-mine

      • RedLogix 12.6.1

        What’s more is that a moment’s thought would tell you about the folly of digging 700m deep holes in a mountain range escarpment right slap bang in one of the most intense rainfall areas in the world.

      • weka 12.6.2

        “because the size of the mountains above the seam changes.”

        Pah, just take the tops off the mountain. Isn’t that what they do in other countries? There is nothing more important than feeding the economy, what’s a few Mts compared to that.

    • vto 12.7

      Looks like none of your arguments have any factual basis or logical legitimacy Rich. None. There has been not a solitary rebuff to any the above arguments put to you and no counter to the facts either. Especially on the environmental points and on the open-cast fallacy.

      Best you man up and acknowledge your failure.

      • Rich the other 12.7.1

        Solid energy’s application to convert pike to an open caste mine is good enough for me.

        The existing tunnel starts at a level below the coal seams and travels high into the hill, open caste is viable ,especially when the coal price recovers.
        No escaping the fact that this mine was designed to appease the environmentalists.

        • bad12 12.7.1.1

          Despite the quoted words of the originator of the Pike River Mine, Whittal, that open-casting such a mine was not commercially viable, Despite the findings of the Pike River Royal Commission that an open-cast Pike River Mine was not commercially viable YOU claim to know better,

          Despite the FACT that much of the coal in Pike River is 700 meters below the surface, you claim to know better,

          You claim that ‘enviromental conditions’ were put on the resource consent for the Pike River Mine which directly lead to that mine exploding,

          LIST THEM, go on, give us a list of the enviromental conditions applied to the Pike River Mine resource consent that lead in any way to that mine exploding…

        • McFlock 12.7.1.2

          Bullshit, Rich.

          The application was not to “convert pike to an open caste[sic] mine”. It was to explore the possibility of mining some of the shallower areas of the Pike field using open-cast methods. Because Solid Energy has done more research than the Pike River Coal company had (did PRC ever NOT cut costs?) and

          It found the amount of coal available was “much lower than that indicated by Pike River Coal” with the most abundant and easiest to access deposits at a “relatively shallow” depth of 50m-150m.

          PRC thought all the coal was too deep, and never applied to do o-c mining, probably never even considered it after looking at their geo reports.

          You’re just another tory liar.

          • bad12 12.7.1.2.1

            The truth is belatedly revealed, i withdraw my apology to that fool ‘rich’ made above as McFlock has kindly pointed out that the Solid Energy resource consent application is not one that would allow for the open casting of the Pike River coal mine…

        • Draco T Bastard 12.7.1.3

          Solid energy’s application to convert pike to an open caste mine is good enough for me.

          Except that they haven’t made such an application:

          The proposal from Solid Energy seeks permission to change its mining and prospecting permits to investigate the best way of making the mine profitable – including “consent for an opencast mine in or adjacent to the [Paparoa] National Park”.

          The application seeks permission to investigate whether an opencast mine is viable

          They’ve requested permission to investigate whether an open cast is viable, not to turn it into an open cast mine.

  13. grumpy 13

    This whole thread started with Kelly saying she was doing a speech on “Health and Safety”. Pike River and other tragedies illustrates the problem we now have where the “process” is everything and the objective gets lost.

    As I mentioned before, a good example is ISO9000, which, when introduced was supposed to be a qualifier for “quality”. It is no such thing. A company can make crap, as long as it is well documented crap they can still obtain ISO9000.

    ….and so it is with industrial safety.

    • vto 13.1

      I think that’s not quite the picture grumpy. It seems to me the true fundamental mistake made in this dreadful tragedy, taking into account mankinds greedy and other less righteous ways, was in removing the independence of mine checks.

      To expect mankind to put aside all other issues such as profit in order to objectively assess safety requirements is the true folly.

      And that my friend sheets directly home to the neoliberal philosophy that has plagued this land for too many decades now.

      • insider 13.1.1

        Too simplistic. SE and others have been starting and operating mines under the same regime. If lack of inspectors was the issue then you would see more problems across the industry. The oil industry successfully handle s hundreds of millions of barrels of volatile, oil, gas and fuels without a specialist inspectorate.

        • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1.1

          If lack of inspectors was the issue then you would see more problems across the industry.

          Not necessarily. Rules and regulations are there to stop the minority of people who cut corners.

          The oil industry successfully handle s hundreds of millions of barrels of volatile, oil, gas and fuels without a specialist inspectorate.

          And they make a hell of a lot more money as well. Still, there was the Gulf of Mexico incident.

          • KJT 13.1.1.1.1

            The oil and gas industry is not exactly immune from accidents and deaths.

            That’s why you get the big bucks.

        • McFlock 13.1.1.2

          “This organisation could be so unsafe because there were not enough inspectors” does not mean that “every organisation would choose to be so unsafe if oversight is lacking”. That’s like arguing that everyone would commit murder if overworked police mean that a few people will get away with murder.

          The oil industry is adequately covered under general hazmat, transport and fire authorities. E.g. the fire service can inspect the safety of oils, paints, and other flammable goods, rather than needing a specialist “oil inspection” service. Mines are a unique and isolated environment with extremely advanced technical considerations and need specialist oversight in the same way that watercraft are covered by the Maritime Safety Authority.

          The problem is that the lack of specialist inspection enabled PRC to run an unsafe operation, and we don’t know whether other operators are in a similar condition. The fact that inspectors failed to identify the major hazards that led to 29 deaths suggests that the job of inspection had not been done adequately (by whomever), no?

          • KJT 13.1.1.2.1

            They changed the name to Maritime New Zealand.

            And having any expertise in watercraft, apart from small yachts, is a good way, not, to advance in the organization.

            You have to be an ex taxi driver, yachtie, real estate agent, or policeman!

            Box ticking replaced real attempts at safety at sea long ago.

            Can’t get too tough, though, that would get rid of all those cheap substandard ships which call here, ships which are banned from the US coast, and add a couple of dollars to farmers freight rates.

            • Murray Olsen 13.1.1.2.1.1

              Ex police officers seem to be able to be anything at all. Box ticking organisations and debt collection agencies are full of them. I expect that once employee drug testing really takes off, it’ll provide another career path. It’s usually just Key’s shoulder tapping on a wider scale and is basically how New Zealand Inc is run. On a psychological level, my view is that it helps explain why people like the GCSB guy and the Race Relations ball girl can get put in their jobs without much fuss – it’s standard practice. And it kills people when dangerous industries are involved.

        • Grumpy 13.1.1.3

          Not “lack of”, should be “quality of”.

      • Grumpy 13.1.2

        Really, you are saying the same thing. Replacing experienced on site inspectors with well meaning idiots with checklists always ends in tears………who would have thought.

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