Pike River

Huge news for the families of the Pike River tragedy and a huge president for future Governments from a liability point of view…..


The Government will fund a plan to re-enter and explore the main tunnel leading up to the rock fall in the Pike River Coal Mine.

Families of the 29 men killed in the mine nearly three years ago were briefed this morning.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges made the announcement this afternoon, putting the estimated cost of the plan at $7.2 million and said the chance of finding bodily remains in the tunnel was “slim”.

The decision follows approval in principle of the re-entry plan risk assessment by the Solid Energy Board.

“Our criteria are that any re-entry into the tunnel up to the rock fall is safe, technically feasible and financially credible. Safety is paramount, and the high hazards unit of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has reviewed the plan and is comfortable with it,” Bridges said in a statement.

“This is a highly complex and technical operation and it will be carefully managed in stages, with a risk assessment undertaken at each stage. Ensuring the safety of workers is an absolute bottom line for the Government and Solid Energy.”

The plan announced today does not cover entry into the main mine workings which is blocked by the rock fall.

“The Government cannot comment or speculate about re-entering the main mine until the tunnel re-entry has been successfully achieved,” Bridges said.

He said the process was “methodical” with Cabinet needing to be satisfied that the plan was safe, credible and financially viable.

Bridges emphasised that the funding was “in principle” and would be staged, so every step would be reassessed to check progress was being made.

All of the technology which would be used was not novel by international standards, he told reporters.

On entering the mine proper, Bridges said he was personally sceptical.

There had been fires, explosions and floods, so it was likely the environment would probably be highly unstable.

The reason the plan had taken so long was because it was a long time
to be satisfied that the plan was safe.

The plan would start in November. It was “overly optimistic” to think that it would be completed this year.

The $7.2 million figure was “more than credible” and was perhaps conservative Bridges said.

Weather could hold up the plan, with hundreds of helicopter flights required to drop materials into the mine.


I hope this can finally bring some closure for families who do not yet seem to have been able to find it


The families were frustrated by how long it had taken to this point.

”It has been a long time, it’s been an agonising wait. I don’t think they’ve been unrealistic at any point with their expectations.”

Some families believed a few bodies of those who died while fleeing the blast on November 19, 2010 might be retrieved from an unexplored 700-metre section of the tunnel.


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