On behalf of the majority of the Pike River Families
The Families of the Pike River 29 understand the tragedy of death underground, and would not countenance an unacceptable risk to anyone re-entering the Pike River Drift.
Since September 2011, they have had positive indications given to them of the procedure required to re-enter the Drift. They understood that the work would be slow and costly, and that very careful technical and legal analysis would be required. Beginning with assurances given to them by the former Pike River Mine Manager, Mr Ellis in September 2011, they have been through a repetitive process, and under Solid Energy’s ownership have been briefed on a regular basis. There was no indication given that the re-entry would not happen.
The first indication of change came with the advice to the Families in mid August that the decision of the board would not be given at the August board meeting.
Since that time it has become apparent in statements by Solid Energy, that they now understand that controls earlier proposed to address risk have some serious weaknesses and omissions. Solid Energy now state that there are no adequate controls identified against entrapment, or if entrapped, that those re-entering the drift could be rescued. Further concerns are that a second egress is required and none is planned for, and without which there will be no re-entry. An article by Rebecca MacFie published in The Listener today, Friday 3 October 2014, together with a radio interview with Mr Clifford further support this position, which is based on expert advice being obtained by Solid Energy.
The Families regard the expert advice being obtained by Solid Energy as crucial not just to the Board’s decision but to their own understanding of re-entry decisions and it is essential that this advice can be reviewed by the Families own technical advisors, who will in turn discuss this with the Families.
The turnaround in this position has astonished and distressed the Families. They are facing the prospect of the Mine being sealed on a permanent basis, that there will be no exploration of the drift and no recovery of their men. They always understood reclamation of the Drift was only a first step and a second step into the Mine workings was possible, although problematical and that this would create new issues to deal with. But it was a first step and they wanted to know what might be found in the upper reaches of the Drift following that fateful Friday afternoon on 19 November 2010.
The Families can only deal with this now by having their own technical advisers review all the material,which Solid Energy will provide to the Families. The sharing of this material has been agreed to and the Families can only trust that as Solid Energy receives more conclusive advice, that it will be shared
with the Families’ technical advisers. We await the material from Solid Energy through the communication channels, which are now being established. It is our view that all of this material should become available as Official Information in due course.