Pike River Mine can be safely re-entered – but the Government says no

Written By: - Date published: 6:08 pm, November 17th, 2016 - 62 comments
Categories: disaster, health and safety - Tags: , , ,

Damien O’Connor has taken it to Nick Smith on the re-entry of Pike River mine this Question Time:

O’Connor then tabled an email from a former Mines Inspector, Tony Forster, who told the families in an email yesterday that there was already a “suitable scheme” to re-enter the mine, and he would “be honoured to take part in or lead a drift recovery”.

Nick Smith is covering for John Key, who made a promise to the Pike River families that he was “absolutely committed to getting the boys out.”

Denise Roche of the Greens also took Smith on in the House.

The government is trying to fling mud about the families “being cavalier”. But the experts agree the mine can be re-entered safely.

Keep your promise, John.

62 comments on “Pike River Mine can be safely re-entered – but the Government says no”

  1. rob 1

    Something is not right here, a failed company has an expert that the govt is listening to about the drift? seems like more b.s. and arse covering to me.
    And about, more covering going on right this minute I reckon, sorry not about Pike but all the comments about the unstable buildings in Wellington on stuff have been closed and the article about water going into the bunker under the beehive disappeared pronto!
    Something is up and alot of people were out in danger it seems, that thank God didn’t come to anything at this stage.be careful people working in and around welly something seems fishy.

    • pat 1.1

      this government have had 6 years to refine their control of the narrative re response to adverse events….absolutely nothing would surprise.

    • John r 1.2

      Couldn’t agree more. Once again we mushrooms are being fed compost. I’m of the opinion that anybody who takes the kings shilling is not to be trusted.
      Are we setting ourselves up for a Trump like election next year. Where an outsider with no political connections can decide our future

    • Cinny 1.3

      I’m wondering if the reason they won’t go into the drift is to avoid any more prosecution against solid energy if more potential damning evidence is revealed upon re-entry.

      Much love and respect to all those whom are supporting the Pike River Families. And to those blocking the road, so proud of you all, so proud, wish I was able to come and help.

      • Sam C 1.3.1

        “Any more prosecution against Solid Energy”? I think you’ll find that it was Pike River Mine Ltd that was prosecuted.

        Solid Energy bought the assets (the mine) and presumably not the liabilities (residual litigation, etc, etc).

        • Cinny 1.3.1.1

          Thanks for clearing that up for me, appreciate it. So I wonder if Pike Rive Mine Ltd are worried that any entering the mine would find evidence that would lead to bigger prosecutions.

          • WILD KATIPO 1.3.1.1.1

            Cinny

            Yes,… there is such a thing as retrospective prosecutions. Happens all the time in cold cases , criminal and industrial.

            The problem is for Key and his supporters like Sam C , it would open up a lot of embarrassing issues in the coming election year regarding the preeminence that corporate’s and foreign and local shareholders have over the health and safety of New Zealand workers.

            And that might even lead on to other side issues such as the abysmal low wage economy in Keys ‘ Brighter Future’ ,and the 300,000 children living in poverty , the family’s who have to sleep in their cars because of the Key govts irresponsible immigration policy’s and turning a blind eye to the speculation that caused the housing bubble,… and on and on it goes…

            All in all ,… not a good look for this govt if coroners were to be able to do an in depth assessment of the exact cause of deaths of those workers and the conditions found in the mine,… it just might lead on to a few people in high places being seen before the courts.

            • Cinny 1.3.1.1.1.1

              Thanks WK, well said and explained, that’s the line of thought I was thinking, well worded, much appreciated.

              Because there are experts that say it is not safe, and even more experienced experts that say it is safe. Which makes me think it comes down to money, not wanting to go in incase more prosecutions follow $$$ Outgoing government have proven on so many occasions that money is their priority over people.

              • Cinny

                Your on the money , mate,… your right on the money in your assumptions there for sure.

                And that’s all it is.

                That and political reputations.

              • Cinny

                Your on the money there, mate, … your right on the money with your wondering’s.

                And that’s all its about.

                Money.

                That and political reputations.

  2. save nz 2

    Sounds like John Key and the Natz are too scared to enter the mine in case they find out that the Pike River victims could have been saved.

    The families want and deserve to know.

    Don’t cover it up!

  3. Rosemary McDonald 3

    Disgusting, but not surprising that the Honourable (sic) Member repeatedly trotted out the usual scripted lines that perpetuate the narrative that they are doing the right thing by following the (much debated ) Health and Safety laws and putting the lives of potential rescuers first. Repeatedly. Ad nauseum.

    Slightly tangential…did y’all notice how full the House was today? I mean, more often than not, the benches, fore and aft, are barely occupied. MPs seem to like to spend as little time as possible actually sitting in the house….much better things to do. Not today.

    Why?

    Maybe because Parliament enjoys the privilege of occupying one of the most efficiently earthquake strengthened buildings in the country.

    https://www.parliament.nz/en/visit-and-learn/how-parliament-works/fact-sheets/earth-move/

    “Safe as Houses” takes on a whole new meaning.

    It would have to be a Very Big One to bury that lot under a pile of rubble.

    My heart goes out to the Pike River Families…

  4. Ed 4

    I do not understand why a reporter has not asked when expert advice was last provided to the government, and who by. Key has gone from not being aware of advice to now saying that it is unsafe, and then we hear talk of legal advice. I hope someone asks the appropriate questions through FOI – undoubtedly things will have moved before all avenues have been exhausted there, but we deserve to know what advice the government is replying on

  5. Muttonbird 5

    A bit rich for Dr Smith to start banging on about health and safety when it was his government which stripped the mining industry of its safety monitors, and it is his government which reduces the ability of unions to access work sites in order to listen to workers’ concerns on safety conditions, and it is his government which has overseen a sharp increase in workplace deaths, particularly on farms, and shall we say it – mines.

    • save nz 5.1

      +1 Muttonbird – the unsafe mine was safe to work in, but too unsafe to rescue people? This is one Fucked up government that doesn’t have an inch of decency left.

      • WILD KATIPO 5.1.1

        SAVE NZ

        Decent ?… decent ?… of course they are decent !!!

        Decent enough to create a tax haven for all those corporate’s and shareholders needing a safe place to let their dollars come to rest. Incredibly decent of them , I’d have to say…

    • SomeName 5.2

      They (the gnats) were also responsible for the leaky homes debacle and changing the building codes and substandard materials were used

  6. Dale 6

    Don’t you think that if it was safe to renter the mine they would have?
    Does anyone really think that Jon Key is doing this to be a areshole?
    Health and safety must come first.
    If people die in the recovery of the 29 then what would you all be saying?
    The laws governing health and safety prevents any adverse risk.
    If the mine was built properly without the influence of the greenies then none of this would have happened in the first place. For any Green Party member to criticise now is truly hypocritical.
    Do know that every tree that was cut down during the building of the mine incurred a $20,000 levee?
    The way the government at the time built this disaster should reflect and take a long hard look at themselves.
    Yes I’m passionate about this because I lost.
    Live strong the rest.

    • ropata 6.1

      Health and safety must come first.

      If only…

    • Muttonbird 6.2

      Are you saying the Pike River disaster was the fault of the Green Party?

      • save nz 6.2.1

        Maybe Labour did it too.

        So the logic is that Pike River corp had to spend money on the trees so they saved shareholders profit by not bothering to have any working safety features in the mine???

        With the RMA they managed to build an unsafe mine illegal mine with only one working exit and didn’t bother maintaining it with the few safety features not working and ditched the independent inspectors. After killing the workers they did not allow a rescue and did not prosecute anyone, now refusing to let anyone in to find out what really happened.

        • Muttonbird 6.2.1.1

          Excellent summation there.

          Horrible incompetence, and the dangers of industry deregulation laid bare.

    • @Dale

      I dont give a flying fuck which party gets its toes stomped on .

      But this disaster happened under this govts watch. Key said they would enter. Now he backpeddles on spurious so -called advice.

      I call bullshit.

      1) Victims of carbon monoxide/methane poisoning cannot be ascertained unless there is flesh samples. It would behoove any participants in this skulduggery to have those bodies in that mine for as long as possible – preferably forever- lest an autopsy declares the men were still alive and there was a chance to rescue them.

      2) The state of that air / methane extractor main vent that continually broke down and was frequently not even in use.

      3) Unacceptably high methane levels that would have shut that mine down had adequate mines inspection been allowed to take place. Methane levels that were frequently mentioned of by the workers themselves and known by the Management.

      4) Only one access road in – or out. Which contravenes basic safety from the get go. And was commented incredulously on as such by the Australian mining officials .

      5) This and other previous neo liberal governments deliberate destruction of unions and thus the absolute lack of , – and impossible workload of available mines inspectors- to which on last count there was around only 4 for a nation the size of New Zealand. If union mines inspectors had still been in sufficient numbers today as they were 35 years ago that mine would have been shut down so fast it would have made its foreign investors heads spin.

      6) Investor /Corporate culpability and possible negative litigation against them. If that mine was to be entered and it indeed it was found that both negligence by management in creating the conditions for that deadly event , – and that those men actually were alive after the initial blast and that they could have been rescued – that would be a major setback if these corporate’s were then able to have proceedings brought against them , and also set a precedent in this country that would be adverse to this govts emphasis on foreign investors , – foreign investment in dangerous industry’s that more often than not have the bare minimum of Health and Safety regulations to protect NZ workers and often scant regard for our environment as well..

      • Sam C 6.3.1

        Another armchair expert…

        • Cinny 6.3.1.1

          Another assumption that some people are armchair experts, Sam you assume much, considering you really have no idea how much mining experience any commenting on this thread actually has.

        • WILD KATIPO 6.3.1.2

          Really ,….

          Sooooooo,… now were going to refute the findings of the inquiry that was conducted regarding the failed safety standards at the mine, now are we?

          And the bonuses that were paid to get em working – and shut up about the high methane levels… yeah , right .

          Tell me, were you , or some of your colleagues in any way involved in the shareholders market regarding those mining operations, – or are you just another union hating Key sycophant ?

        • save nz 6.3.1.3

          You don’t need to be an expert Sam C, a five year old could work this one out. There are people dead it’s not a hypothetical discussion.

          There has been extensive reviews, promises but zero justice.

          • Sam C 6.3.1.3.1

            Justice? So the recovery of the bodies is about “justice”, is it? Good grief.

            • Clump_AKA Sam 6.3.1.3.1.1

              We need to figure out what went wrong in order to make adjustments to procedure other wise mining in New Zealand becomes a complete farce. We might be using the wrong drill bit, and what over those light fixtures were all about, pretty kills just as well as ugly under ground

      • geoff 6.3.2

        All politicians feed crap to the public, be they John Key, Andrew Little, Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton etc ‘ad nauseum’. It goes with the territory. Therefore, though I am agreeing here that it appears that National are ducking this one, some blowback reaches the previous Labour lot as well. Remember that it was that previous government that reduced the number of mine inspectors in the first place. In fact, I think it was on the watch of our current Auckland mayor, Might have to check that. Self preservation is rule 101 for politicians. As they say ‘if you want to govern first gain power then hold on to it’.

        • WILD KATIPO 6.3.2.1

          GEOFF

          Id go along with what you say , it doesn’t matter who had a hand in bringing that deadly event about , justice IS , SHOULD be blind.

          It always strikes me as hypocritical that we can have a Police sting that nets 30 or more gang members and their associates in a drug ring , but for some peculiar reason when it comes to politicians in this country they are immune to prosecution when it comes to negligence causing death ,… ie : to deliberately downplay mines inspectors and reducing their numbers ( done deliberately – as was legislation designed to weaken unions to an almost non existent level ) … and along with that , the arse saving that’s been going on with protecting a corporate , their managers and their foreign investors .

    • rob 6.4

      Sorry but time has overcome you. Lead down the path of they can’t possibly be fooling me!
      Hmmm unfortunately.

    • Cinny 6.5

      Dale, you sound a bit like Smith when questioned on the subject in Parliament. Health and Safety come first, Smith assures us that health and safety are paramount and if we have any lessons to learn from Pike River it is health and safety lessons.
      However it was Smiths national government that ensured there were absolutely no mining regulations in place for seven years.

      “In December 2012, Prime Minister John Key said he would apologise in person to the families of the deceased, for the Government’s weak regulations and inadequate inspection regime.”

      The Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson (National Party) resigned her portfolio on 5 November 2012 following the Royal Commission’s criticism of her department (re Pike River)

      “In February 2013, a panel of experts, including representatives from Solid Energy, the Government and families of the deceased, met to discuss whether retrieval of the bodies would be possible if they had the necessary funding. They came to the conclusion it could be done, and the Government promised to fund the effort if its High Hazards Unit agreed”

      “in November 2014, Solid Energy made the decision to not re-enter the Pike River due to safety reasons. They made the decision not to enter the mine after a long risk assessment, saying that if rescuers re-entered the mine there was a high chance more people would die.
      Later it was revealed that Worksafe had deemed re-entry safe for a year”

    • SomeName 6.6

      Wake up Dale your information is stale just like our government

  7. infused 7

    Umm, that’s not sticking it to him… get a grip.

    • Muttonbird 7.1

      You can see the trepidation with which Dr Smith offers his answers. He knows he’s on the wrong side of decency on this. There is none of the Key bravado and I think the rest of the cabinet are keeping Key away from the chamber because he’ll likely screw it up with clumsy school-yard tactics.

  8. Dale 8

    For this to be politicised in such a way is desperate and disgusting. All parties involved need to stand up. But I doubt that will ever happen.

  9. Muttonbird 9

    This is what heroes do in dangerous situations.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/318308/ctv-rescuer-defied-tsunami-warning-to-help-at-homestead

    Rescuers rescue and put themselves in harms way for others.

    A pike River re-entry is not some ordinary job situation – it’s a rescue effort which should have happened six years ago almost to the day.

    Think of true heroes, then think of John Key’s morally corrupt government.

    • weka 9.1

      Quite. Key calling it lunacy to send more people in misses the point that he wouldn’t be sending anyone in, they’d be going in off their own initiative voluntarily.

    • Sam C 9.2

      Jesus. Talk about rewriting history.

  10. Chris 10

    Damien O’Connor is one of the few Labour MPs who knows how to ask questions in the House. I’m sick to death of Labour MPs squandering valuable oral question time with idiotic attempts at point scoring attacks, and then opening themselves as easy targets.

    Stupid stuff like “does the prime minister agree that his government has failed abysmally to stick to its promise of reducing CO2 emissions to levels…blah blah blah…” What’s that going to achieve? Nothing but a “no, we haven’t failed, and we’ve done a heck of a lot more than the previous Labour government…blah blah blah…”

    Total waste of valuable opportunities, and Labour just keeps on doing it. Fuckwits.

    It was refreshing to see Damien O’Connor’s carefully worded questions that were designed to elicit proper responses, and not just a whole bunch of nonsense including opportunities for the government to attack the opposition. Damien’s colleagues need to take a leaf out of his book and start doing their jobs properly.

    • Cinny 10.1

      He’s awesome, switched on and wide awake. Our region knows how wonderful he is, how much he cares about the people and NZ, which is why they keep voting him into Parliament, even National voters prefer to vote for Damien as their MP, and that’s a fact.

      Thanks Damien you’ve massive support in our region.

  11. mauī 11

    If it was 29 SAS or Police down there you can bet we would be moving mountains to get in there. The media writing up stories of different methods of possible retrieval, publishing international experts thoughts on how it can be achieved.

    It’s 29 workers though, so yeah.. na. The country shifts into a can’t really be stuffed mode.

    Thanks for this series of pike posts. Inspiring.

    • Sam C 11.1

      What a load of horseshit. 6 years on, you are disrespecting the memories of those 29 brave men with comments like that.

      A Government’s job is to take the best advice possible at the time and act on that advice. They did that and decided at the time that the mine was catastrophically compromised and that to send people in would have been an unacceptable risk. Just as a fire chief wouldn’t send firefighters into a burning, collapsing building when, on the balance of probabilities, any occupants would have already perished.

      But yeah, you have had access to the full flow of information and advice at the time and would still send people in… Good on ya.

      • Clump_AKA Sam 11.1.1

        What the fuck are you on about. There is no more honourable act than to clear the tag baord

      • Cinny 11.1.2

        Disrespecting a memory by not wanting to carry on fighting? Say what… dang Sam you are clutching at straws by writing comments like that.

      • WILD KATIPO 11.1.3

        Sam C
        ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
        ” What a load of horseshit. 6 years on, you are disrespecting the memories of those 29 brave men with comments like that.”
        ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

        You don’t give a shit about those men with your fake concern for the working class hero , you total hypocrite.

        Why ?

        Because if you did you wouldn’t be in such a desperate hurry to close down comments adverse to your precious little pony tail pulling Prime Minister, now would you ?

        Aside from the fact that your condescending defense ( towards other posters ) of the ‘authority’s’ stance on this matter belies the fact that if you really did give a bloody shit you wouldn’t have supported conditions in that mine to begin with and would have given full support to union mines inspectors demanding operations cease until those conditions were rectified.

        But of course, … people like you hate unions and lend full support to neo liberal govts like the one Key leads that actively passes legislation designed to dismantle unionism and empower employers and their shareholders.

        The exception to that rule was the dangerous industry of worm farming which of course needed urgent upgrading of its Health and Safety regulations.

        As for Forestry , Mining and Farming, – hey – there’s always another expendable worker down Queen Street who desperately needs a job in our low wage economy now,… isn’t there.

      • SomeName 11.1.4

        Sam a policeman was in charge what is his expertise ? I rest my case

  12. SomeName 12

    Yes poor buggars they were promised by JK he would do everything he could to get them out and once again he hasn’t delivered on his promise. He has given these people false hope, shame on him. We should have one last look before we seal that mine permanently. The government and the power company don’t want anyone to go in that mine, why is that, they say it is too dangerous how do they know this they are not mine experts. Also I don’t believe the Pike River Mine will be sealed permanently it will be sold later and mined with our men lying in there. Our government thinks people are stupid they think the interest or the people will wavier and they will forget over time. But they won’t and neither would I if one of my loved ones was in that mine. No one has been held responsible this is not good enough when our men lying in the mine they worked in and who got of killing these men.

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