Fathers of fallen Pike River miners say that they have evidence that some miners may have survived the blast at the Pike River mine in 2010.
Bernie Monk and Dean Dunbar, fathers of Pike River Miners, say that “miners could have survived the first explosion, found the break in the fresh airline, and had access to water.”
Their claims have been made after Dunedin Electrical Engineer, Richard Healey who has been examining the details of the Pike River disaster over a period of 18 months. He claims the Pike River Royal Commission has made errors in the findings and that miners could have survived the initial blast but had become entombed in the mine from a rockfall in the drift, ultimately asphyxiating from lack of breathable air.
Healy said he believed that the initial Pike River explosion could have been one of a “rolling explosion” or ignition of gas rather than an explosion that is highly intense driven by its containment at the point of ignition.
His evidence is also supported by a forensic examination of SCADA data at the mine which showed that there was an earlier electrical fault inside the mine that was not examined by the Royal Commission into the disaster.
The Royal Commission heard evidence there was likely multiple failures of electrical cables occurred within the mine. The commission heard “that one cable had failed and within seven-thousandths of a second the two others also failed.”
Healey said that the Commission did not examine an electrical event 0.65 seconds before the other electrical failures. He believes the earlier failure could have triggered an ignition. He told an NZ local news that he examined a set of graphs that were presented to the royal commission into the disaster and immediately thought “the commission got it completely wrong.”
Healey highlighted that the assumptions from the Royal Commission were based on an ignition event rather than multiple electrical events.
Healey said that the evidence showed that survivors could have also been protected from the second blast by a rockfall that occurred in the drift close to the mine workings during the first explosion.
He added that “cameras put down boreholes showed empty self-rescuer boxes and fully intact plastic and wooden items deep inside the mine.”
This evidence may indicate that some miners were not killed by the initial explosion as originally thought.
Healey, Monk and Dunbar have met with Pike River families and provided an extensive range of information on their discoveries. Some families are now calling for the 100-year embargo on the documents from the commission into the Pike River disaster to be lifted and a further examination to be conducted.
Approximately $35 million NZD has been spent on the Pike River Drift recovery to date and a further $12 million of funding has been allocated by the NZ Government. The recovery efforts will not enter mine workings.
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