Pike River Families seek independent advice on eve of commission's report

Pike River families' spokesman Bernie Monk

Families involved in the Pike River Mine tragedy are organising their own experts to re-enter the mine.

Speaking on TV3’s ‘The Nation’ this weekend, their spokesperson, Bernie Monk, said the families’ recommendations to the Royal Commission inquiry into the disaster had “fallen on deaf ears”.

“We've tried all avenues.  You know we've been back to the government several times on this, and of course they always say that their experts said it's too unsafe. Well that’s not quite the truth...  So as from tomorrow, Sunday, we've got our experts coming in from the UK, and we're going to make this happen.”

“All experienced miners here on the West Coast say to us that you can never judge a mine till you get down there and have a look for yourself, and that’s our first priority – to get down the drift.

ABOVE: Watch Mr Monk's interview on TV3's The Nation.

Mr Monk said the team of experts would include Dr David Creedy and Bob Stevenson from the UK, and Dave Feickert  from Wanganui.

He said the government has “always put us in the hands of a bankrupt company such as Pike River and also a defunct company in Solid Energy and they’ve sidestepped us and used them as their pawn to try and communicate with us.  Fortunately Solid Energy are communicating with us now and are letting us do what needs to be done, which should have been done at least 15 to 18 months ago.”

Nonetheless, Mr Monk was confident the Royal Commission would come out with “what the country needs to hear”, when its findings are released to the family on Monday and public thereafter.

“Well I just want the truth and that’s basically it.”

Lawyer for the EPMU in the Royal Commission inquiry, Nigel Hampton QC, said, “The Union hopes for a return to what had been called, in common terms, Check Inspectors, workers' representatives underground and within the industry that have a real say in health and safety underground.

“I think it will have some recommendations going beyond health and safety in mining...  It should mark a return to sensible regulation of high hazard industries.”

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This is utterly heartbreaking for all those closest I am sure.
I believe the powers that be do not want anyone poking around. I recall a talkback host snapping at a caller one night tearing shreds off them for daring to consider there was anything left let alone miners remains. She was adament that the fire had destroyed everything and spat venom at the caller for daring to consider otherwise. Now we hear rumour of evidence of intact remains. There will be a lot of explaining to be done by many of they find some had survived, gone to safe places and waited as trained. I suspect that the jobsworths, clipboard PC Osh mentality that are starting to get exposed in so much of this countries tragic events might not enjoy the continued focus on their dithering. Maybe I'm wrong...but until the mine is explored and any remains recovered I too will be an ardent supporter of the families of this tragedy.

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Until the mine is entered and the bodies or remains found, the answer to the all important "WHY" question will never be fully understood.

However this report will give a number of insights for urgent changes needed and the government needs to act on those it can.

A NZ tragedy - with so many lives deeply affected by this - the families of the 29 lost workers, the 150 other staff of the company and their families, the people of the West Coast, and so many others affected by the tragedy. Today - just as we should on the second anniversary in a couple of weeks time on the 19th November, is a day to remember and become determined to ensure that when the answers are finally known that every thing is done to reduce the risk of ithis occurring again.

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How many more lives risked and how much more money should be spent, for what? What would be the real purpose?

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To find the truth.
Did anyone survive the blast(s).
Could some brave rescuers had, if not prevented, by going in early perhaps saved some.

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