BREAKING NEWS: The New Zealand Government have confirmed that the Pike River Mine will be re-entered to retrieve the 29 miners who perished there eight years ago.
It’s been a long time coming for the families of the miners who have not been able to lay there loved ones to rest. Many of the families have not rested in their quest for re-entry to the mine.
Joanne Ufer from Singleton, mother of Valley Longwall International (VLI) employee Josh Ufer who lost his life in the disaster told AMSJ this morning that “It’s still a little hard to comprehend to be honest. It’s been a long road travelled.”
Joanne said “today’s decision is such a momentous one for the Pike families. It’s hard to comprehend that finally somebody has listened to all the experts and those with knowledge of Pike River to get to this point. Thanks to all those involved. Now let the re-entry begin”
Back in 2012, VLI admitted it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees, contractors and subcontractors, and failed to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of its employees harmed another person. It was fined $NZ46 800. Families were outraged.
The New Zealand Minister heading up the Pike River Recovery Agency said this morning “This week, Cabinet approved an additional $14 million of funding for the single entry option to bring the total cost of the project to $36 million.”
He said the first major task to re-entry – the breaching of the 30m seal – will likely commence in February next year. Over several weeks, he said, additional small boreholes to assist pumping and ventilation will be drilled.
“I’ve built confidence very quickly in the advice I’ve received, I’ve observed what they’ve done over a period of time and I’ve had total confidence in the advice. This hasn’t been a difficult decision to make because of that.”
The Pike River Recovery Agency (PRRA) was established within 100 days of the new New Zealand Government coming into power, to manage the Pike River recovery project. Its first task was to provide Minister Andrew Little with advice on whether re-entry wold be possible.
Currently there are Floxal N2 Generators on-site preparing for inertisation of the mine prior to re-entry.
New Zealand Police commissioner Mike Bush also has confirmed that there will be a forensic team on site to gather evidence during the re-entry and that charges may be laid..
“Our case is open, and everything will be based on evidence,” The purpose of us being involved here is, if it’s safe, to ensure that we take advantage of any opportunities to examine forensic evidence.”
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