Families witness as Pike River mine re-entry attempt begins

by RNZ / 21 May, 2019
Outside the 30m concrete seal at Pike River mine. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Outside the 30m concrete seal at Pike River mine. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

RelatedArticlesModule - pr

The Pike River re-entry team steps through the double airlock doors at 10am today, watched by families of the 29 men who died in the 2010 tragedy.

In 2010 the West Coast coal mine exploded, killing 29 men whose bodies have never been recovered.

The Pike River Recovery Agency has completed its year-long preparations, including cutting through the mine drift's concrete seal and ventilating the access tunnel.

Today's entry attempt will be a low-key event for families after they requested privacy. It comes after an eight-year battle by families to gain re-entry to the drift after being told numerous times by the previous government that it was too dangerous.

The re-entry team will walk through a door on the other side of the concrete seal and spend a short amount of time examining the scene. Any evidence pointing to why the mine exploded will be handed to the police.

Bernie Monk - father of Michael, one of the miners who died in the Pike River mine and who for years acted as the families' spokesperson, said there was a still a lot of work required before actual re-entry into the drift would take place, and so far there had been no indication of exactly when that might be.

"They're taking the first wall down today and then there's a lot of work to get up to the next seal and then the actual re-entry into the drift will take place after that.

"It could be a couple of weeks before they get down to the next seal. I don't know about that, but that's my opinion."

He remained positive however, and said it was a big day for the families.

"We're all meeting at the gate, the families that can make it back ... there won't be the big contingent of the families that were there last time due to a lot of them got to work, got to travel huge distances - some come from overseas - so you know the people that are there will be representing them.

"It's pretty low key because I think everyone's hyped up ... media and people around New Zealand, they just want to do it, you know. And I think with the work that's got to be done to get everyone up there's an enormous job so just keeping it a family affair I can understand."

He said he had seen too many failed attempts to enter the mine to believe it would definitely happen this morning.

"We've been down this track before - we've nearly been there and it hasn't happened and unfortunately the other day when I know it was going to happen it didn't - so I'll believe everything when I see it happening today."

He said he was very confident it would be safe.

"Time's not in essence and safety is a priority so I know that they'll work from day to day gauging all of these elements before they go ahead."

Earlier this month the plan to re-enter the access tunnel was called off after high levels of oxygen were detected, making entering potentially unsafe.

The problem was identified as a tube for monitoring equipment that had been leaking into the area, and has since been fixed.

This article was first published on Radio NZ.

Latest

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her goldsmith father Kobi
107381 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

What filmmaker Andrea Bosshard learned from her go…

by Ken Downie

Filmmaker Andrea Bosshard inherited a creative streak from her goldsmith father Kobi but he also taught her an important life lesson.

Read more
Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?
107383 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Will Uber disrupt itself with its Jump scooters?

by Peter Griffin

Around 800 electric scooters arrived in Wellington this week, with local start-up Flamingo and Uber-owned Jump launching at virtually the same time.

Read more
Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company to create a cryptocurrency
107416 2019-06-19 00:00:00Z Tech

Libra: Why Facebook is the best and worst company…

by Peter Griffin

There is a strong incentive for Facebook to own the crypto space, the way it has social media.

Read more
Win a double pass to Yesterday
107340 2019-06-18 09:48:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Yesterday

by The Listener

Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal.

Read more
Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy from China – for now
107337 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z World

Mass protests protect Hong Kong's legal autonomy f…

by Kelly Chernin

Protesters in Hong Kong have achieved a major victory in their fight to protect their legal system from Chinese interference.

Read more
Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's portrait art
107286 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Arts

Sir Roger Hall on why we need to treasure NZ's por…

by Roger Hall

On an Australian art tour, playwright Sir Roger Hall found that a portrait gallery can be so much more than a snapshot of a country’s social history.

Read more
ANZ boss's departure: 'What was the NZ board doing to monitor expenses?'
Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on their plates
107161 2019-06-18 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Why you shouldn't force kids to eat everything on…

by Jennifer Bowden

Forcing children to finish everything on their plates sets them up for a bad relationship with food.

Read more