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Select committee hears Pike River re-entry plan is safe

Parliamentary select committee hears Pike River re-entry plan is safe

Stand with Pike media release - 16 February 2017

Re-entry into the Pike River entrance tunnel can be done safely, and would allow the families of the men killed there to finally get justice, expert witnesses have told a Parliamentary select committee.

Dame Fiona Kidman, speaking on behalf of the families, told the Commerce Select Committee today:

“Twenty-nine men died at Pike River and no one has ever been held responsible. The Royal Commission found that mine management cut corners and ignored safety warnings. But because crucial evidence about what caused the explosion is still sealed off in that mine, no one can be prosecuted or held accountable. That has to end.

“Everyone knows you don’t seal off a crime scene, but Solid Energy is now trying to permanently seal off the entryway into the mine, robbing the families of the chance to get justice for their loved ones.

“Bluntly, we believe this is a commercial decision – it’s easier to complete the sell-off of Solid Energy’s assets if Pike River can be taken off the books by being permanently sealed. That’s wrong and Parliament has the power to stop it.”

Respected international mine safety expert and former New Zealand Chief Inspector of mines Tony Forster says experts agree the entrance tunnel can be re-entered safely.

“I’ve worked on mine recoveries, including degassing situations similar to Pike River. I’ve saved trapped miners and recovered those killed in mining disasters. I’m saying the tunnel can be made safe for re-entry, if the Government brings the right people together to implement the right plan.

“The families’ plan is safe and feasible.”

Bernie Monk, whose son was killed in the explosion says the families’ request is simple.

“We aren’t asking to go all the way into the mine – just the entrance tunnel. The experts say it can be safely re-entered and could contain evidence of what killed our boys. Why in the world would the Government stop us from getting justice for our boys? Why on earth would you seal up a crime scene?”


ENDS


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