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26 Witnesses to Be Questioned On Pike River Search & Rescue

Monday 29 August 2011

26 Witnesses to Be Questioned On Pike River Mine Search and Rescue

The Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy will call 26 witnesses during public hearings starting next week examining the search and rescue at Pike River Coal Mine.

Following an analysis of evidence and documents already received the Commission has identified key questions it wants the witnesses to address at the hearings which are scheduled to run from Monday 5 September to Friday 23 September in Greymouth.

Questions to be answered include:

• Was there a second means of egress from the mine?
• Was emergency response planning and training at the mine adequate?
• Were rescue efforts hampered by a lack of vital information?
• Were the rescue efforts conducted by the right people and well run?
• Was there ever a window of opportunity to re-enter the mine?
• Were communications with the families well handled?

As well as looking back the hearings will involve a forward focus. The Commission will seek answers to the question: how could the rescue response have been handled better?

Constructive suggestions and criticisms relating to the rescue efforts last November will be sought from representatives of the New Zealand and overseas agencies involved in the operation.

The witnesses to be questioned during the Phase Two hearings include workers and mine managers, representatives of various agencies involved in the rescue effort including police, Mines Rescue Service and members of the men’s families.

Phase Two: Search and Rescue- Hearing Timetable

Week One

Monday 5 September: 11.30am

Opening Statement - Counsel Assisting the Commission
Nigel Hughes - Detective Senior Sergeant, New Zealand Police
Johannes Strydom - former Pike River Coal (PRC) Electrician
Daniel Rockhouse - former PRC Miner
Tuesday 6 September – Thursday 8 September

Douglas White - former PRC General Manager
Stephen Ellis - Statutory Mine Manager Pike River Coal Ltd (in Receivership)
Daniel Duggan - former PRC Control Room Officer
Neville Rockhouse - former PRC Safety and Training Manager

Friday 9 September

Glenville Stiles - Trainer contracted to Mines Rescue Service
John Taylor - Project Investigations Manager, Solid Energy New Zealand

Week Two

Monday 12 September – Friday
16 September

Grant Nicholls - Assistant Commissioner, New Zealand Police
Gary Knowles - Superintendent, New Zealand Police
Darren Brady - Manager, Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station (Simtars), Queensland
Timothy Whyte - Industry Health and Safety Representative, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union, Australia
Seamus Devlin - State Manager, NSW Mines Rescue, Australia
James Stuart-Black - National Manager, Special Operations, New Zealand Fire Service
Lesley Haines - Deputy Chief Executive, Labour Group, Department of Labour
Trevor Watts - General Manager, Mines Rescue Service
Craig Smith - General Manager Underground Mines, Solid Energy New Zealand
Week Three

Monday 19 September
Lauryn Marden – Family
Tara Kennedy – Family
Sonya Rockhouse – Family
Carol Rose – Family
Marty Palmer – Family
Richard Valli – Family
Bernard Monk – Family

Tuesday 20 September

Peter Whittall - CEO Pike River Coal Ltd (in Receivership)

NB: The timetable is indicative only and may change as the hearing progresses.

The public is welcome at the Commission’s hearings. Transcripts of each day’s hearings are expected to be available from http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz by 6.00pm on the day.

The hearings will be live streamed through TVNZ’s and TV3’s websites.

A list of the questions to guide the Phase Two: Search and Rescue hearings and the Commission’s List of Issues it needs to evaluate to address its Terms of Reference are available from http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz.

There are four phases to the Commission’s Inquiry: Phase One-Context, Phase Two-Search and Rescue, Phase Three-What happened at the Pike River Mine and why, and Phase Four-Policy Aspects.

ENDS

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