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DOC reports on Raoul Island investigation

16 June 2006

Department of Conservation reports on Raoul Island investigation

A Department of Conservation investigation into the Raoul Island eruption in March has found DOC worker Mark Kearney’s death was a work place accident that could not have been prevented.

Auckland Conservator Sean Goddard said the investigation report, released today, concluded there were no Department management decisions or system failures that could have prevented the fatality.

“The investigation team found that staff and managers were aware of the risk of volcanic eruption and earthquakes on Raoul and that there was a strong health and safety culture.”

“The eruption on March 17 that caused Mark Kearney’s death was, in the view of GNS Science who advised the Department on the level of volcanic threat, an unpredictable ‘blue sky” event.”

Mr Goddard said the investigation had made a number of recommendations on health and safety management for the island and that these were being implemented.

“Although none of the recommendations in the report would have prevented this tragic accident, there are lessons that we can take from the accident and steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of staff being exposed to similar events in future.”

“We have reviewed hazard control plans to specifically include the volcanic hazard around the crater lake area as recommended in the report, and have put in place an exclusion zone restricting access to this area for volcanic monitoring and all other work.”

“This exclusion zone will remain in place until an independent risk assessment of staff exposure to volcanic hazards is undertaken, as recommended in the report.”

The feasibility of remote monitoring of volcanic activity on the island would also be investigated, said Mr Goddard.

The Department has also put in place a more formal communication protocol with GNS Science in relation to all volcanic and tectonic hazards on the island.


ENDS

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