Pike River angst continues

Another Pike River anniversary, more angst over the non-removal of the bodies from the mine.

Some want the bodies of family members retrieved, that’s understandable.

Solid Energy says that there is 98% methane in the mine and it’s not safe risk lives to remove dead bodies.

RNZ: Pike River families furious at mine’s closure

In a strongly worded statement released earlier today, Solid Energy hit out at “inaccurate and misleading statements in the media”, saying they were feeding “false hope”.

“It is disingenuous and, frankly, deeply disappointing for commentators who lack the full information base on which this decision was made – and who bear no legal responsibility for the outcomes of the re-entry project – to once again raise hopes regarding re-entry,” the statement said.

The company said its decision was based on an exhaustive investigation into the feasibility of safe re-entry and was backed by the independent expertise of Emeritus Professor Jim Galvin.

Solid Energy said there had been no material improvements in the conditions in the drift since the decision was made to seal the mine in November 2014.

“The reality is that for the entire time since Solid Energy took over Pike Rive Mine in 2012, the drift has been full of nearly pure methane. There is no report that shows that gas levels have reduced.

“There are no recent tests that show the seal is unnecessary. In fact, our continuous monitoring shows that methane remains at around 98 percent and is continually being released into the mine and the drift,” it said.

But family angst continues.

Families furious with Solid Energy’s decision to proceed with plans to permanently seal the Pike River Mine are looking at legal action.

Some of the victims’ families have staged a sit-in protest in recent weeks, saying the mine should not be closed until the victims’ bodies have been retrieved.

A lawyer for the families, Nigel Hampton QC, said he filed an application with WorkSafe to review the closure plans on Friday.

There have been a number of protests, including the blocking of a road with rocks.

I don’t think there’s any easy answers here.

I can understand (some) families wanting bodies removed, but is it worth risking the lives of others?

Leave a comment

72 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  22nd November 2016

    It would be idiotic to risk people’s lives on retrieving dead bodies (if anything is left) just for the sake of taking them from one burial site to another.

    Reply
    • David

       /  22nd November 2016

      Exactly. Nothing is safer than to apply a huge amount of emotional pressure onto a risky undertaking……

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd November 2016

        Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that the bodies were intact-which I don’t believe.By now they’d be skeletons. In fact, any ‘bodies’ are probably unidentifiable bits of bone after an explosion like that. Risking lives and spending vast amounts of money is insane, It’s surely better to have the mine as their tomb and put a really good memorial there with all the names on it. What’s the point of retrieving a few bits of bone ? If it was my husband in there, I think that I’d let him stay there in peace and have his memorial stone there and one in the cemetery, perhaps, as a personal one.

        Reply
  2. The real problem is the families affected are without meaningful jobs so are not focussed on a better quality of life for those left behind. They are immersed in their own grief and have to find a target as an outlet for that grief and look outside their small inner-looking community. Their so-called leaders should be advising them to focus on better things than retrieving the ashes of those departed. Enough time has passed, there are sound health and safety reasons to close down and seal off the mine, and declare a no go zone around the entrance area until such time as the sealing off is completed. Perhaps thought could be given to prioritising labour opportunities for the sealing off to be given to able bodied next of kin so they can finally bury the remains of their loved ones?

    Reply
  3. Andrew

     /  22nd November 2016

    98% methane in the mine is actually a lot safer than you think. Methane needs oxygen to burn and wont ignite at levels above 15%. If the entire mine was 98% methane, then it would be safe to enter with breathing equipment. Still dangerous, obviously, if there were pockets of lover Methane concentration.

    Reply
    • David

       /  22nd November 2016

      Not really. It may not be as much of an explosion risk, but working in a 98% methane atmosphere with BA, down a mine shaft, for a job that is really about emotional closure, isn’t my idea of a great place to start from a safety point of view.

      Add to that, it’s not in anyway a controlled environment. if there is 98% methane, there will be transition zones that are very dangerous indeed.

      Reply
      • Andrew

         /  22nd November 2016

        Don’t get me wrong, i think it’s insanely dangerous and shouldn’t be attempted. But a main argument has been: “Solid Energy says that there is 98% methane in the mine and it’s not safe risk lives to remove dead bodies.”

        This alone is not the main safely risk. There are many more.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  22nd November 2016

          It seems a little odd we can search the bottom of oceans via automation but not a mine. Is it because of obstructions or some other reason?

          Reply
          • Andrew

             /  22nd November 2016

            Potentially some of the mine collapsed due to the fires. That’s just pure speculation on my part though.

            Reply
          • Anonymous Coward

             /  22nd November 2016

            Everything that made it a mine and not a gas filled hole in the ground was destroyed in the explosions. By which I mean the ventilation and extraction systems, emergency oxygen and communications.
            The fact is, though, that due to poor management and planning the mine was only ever half a mine in the first place. Secondary egress and ventilation shafts were never built.
            As they spent $185 million making half a mine, the cost’s of getting men back in there safely would seem to be too much.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  22nd November 2016

            Getting men back in there safely wasn’t my question. It was why not a drone/robot/etc?

            Reply
          • Anonymous Coward

             /  22nd November 2016

            Perhaps drones don’t work very well through 2kms of rock.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd November 2016

              They don’t work under water either – until they have control wires attached. Or you could lay a chain of wifi extenders or equivalent. I find it hard to believe there isn’t a technological solution unless there is an insurmountable physical barrier in there that they already know about. Even then, drilling past it is surely an option?

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              There was a line in the dramatisation on TV last night from one of the mothers that “they don’t want the bodies out because they know they’ll get arrested”. Perhaps there is something in that?
              As long as no one goes down there there’s only paperwork to say what was happening, as soon as the mine is entered there will be hard evidence, that may show greater failings. The directors only barely escaped charges.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              That’s a ridiculous statement if someone really said it.

              Why do people keep saying ‘the bodies’ when they must know that the remains are almost certainly not ‘bodies’ ?

              Maybe the ones insisting would like to go in themselves and do it, They must think that it’s safe.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              Because the body of a loved one remains a body no matter how little of it are left. Remains, like corpses and cadavers, always belong to strangers.

          • patupaiarehe

             /  22nd November 2016

            It seems a little odd we can search the bottom of oceans via automation but not a mine. Is it because of obstructions or some other reason?

            Hmmm… I’ve had similar thoughts myself Alan. I read a very interesting take on it a little while back, I’ll try to find a link to it.

            Reply
        • I think there are about four robots abandoned in the mine, all succumbed to conditions.

          Yes, from Wikipedia:

          During inspection and recovery attempts, several robotic vehicles have been sent into the mine, but all four failed within the mine (for reasons such as water ingress into their electronics, or getting stuck) and all four are still within the mine

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_River_Mine_disaster

          Reply
          • patupaiarehe

             /  22nd November 2016

            Interestingly enough Pete, one of the inconsistencies that the ‘conspiracy theory’ I read pointed out, was that the drift goes uphill, so if the robot in the drift was damaged by water, why was no water seen running from the entrance?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  22nd November 2016

              Uggers is good with these sorts of things. A good thing to do before assuming conspiracy is to see what one can find out about how many robots were damaged by water and how many were stuck, and where are the electronics, and how much water would be needed to damage them, and what would the water sources be, and how would it normally be prevented from running out of the mine, and how the water damage conclusion was reached – sometimes water means ‘moisture’.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              I didn’t ‘assume conspiracy’ G, I merely mentioned that I had read a ‘theory’. I read FAR too many theories on the internet to take anything without a large pinch of salt…

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  22nd November 2016

              Having just driven through the Homer tunnel and experiencing a localised little waterfall inside it I surmise that water in the mine may well have its own exit route within it. However, waterproofing a robot should not be particularly difficult or unusual. High temperatures may have been another barrier but presumably are no longer? Loose rocks fallen on the ground may have also jammed and trapped the devices. However surely these are all common issues in mine rescue, investigation and recovery. You would have thought solutions had been found.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              MURDER
              AT
              PIKE RIVER MINE?
              [SECOND EDITION]
              The incestuous collusion between corrupt, fascist, international corporations, banks, global mining companies & compliant politicians – And how the inexorable love of money by those who run them supersedes everything else.

              What was the real truth behind the Pike River coal mine disaster in New Zealand killing 29 men? – Was the tragedy simply an “accident” or was it premeditated murder? – Involving people at the highest level of the New Zealand Government and international business and banking community? Does this case have implications for the world?
              by
              Dr Jacob Cohen

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              Went looking for conspiracies, found that. It’s a 75 page word doc though.
              Flicking through it, everything about it is a conspiracy and it all starts at the “City of London”.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              Yes AC, I saw that earlier when I was trying to find the other theory I read, which didn’t allege ridiculous things such as satanic rituals. I do, however, very clearly recall a 3news reporter saying that police had launched a “Murder investigation”, a day or two after the event, on the 6pm news. Yet on nightline later that night, that part was edited out. And when I looked for it online, guess what???

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              That’s another conspiracy – it’s called “Mandela Effect”. (also it’s bullshit).
              Where you remember something that has later been erased.

            • Gezza

               /  22nd November 2016

              I’ve become a big fan of the Trump effect where he doesn’t remember saying something that hasn’t been erased.

        • Gezza

           /  22nd November 2016

          “An Australian company charged the Pike River Coal receivers about $170,000 for its robot, which is still stuck down the mine two years after the fatal explosions.

          So many robots were sent into the mine, never to be seen again, that it was renamed a robotic ‘Bermuda Triangle’.

          The first, a Defence Force bomb disposal robot, short-circuited in the wet, as did another. A third robot from the Western Australian Water Corporation was sent in on November 26, 2010, but the second explosion put an end to its work.

          A water corporation spokesman said this week the receivers had used another robot in March 2011 to determine the condition of the mine. That one snagged its own cable and is still down there.”
          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838786

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  22nd November 2016

            The water is evident here. The Defence department robots are maybe designed more for looking at suspicious things in reasonably good conditions then maybe blowing them them up if necessary, rather than than exploring mines.

            Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  22nd November 2016

      What if there’s nothing or only fragments left ? The fragments are not going to rematerialise into whole bodies. Remains, corpses, cadavers and bodies are just different words for the same thing. Look it up in a thesaurus. A few crumbs of bone are not a body, any more than a few pieces of charred wood are a house or a few rags a garment. The Pike River remnants are not bodies now.

      Reply
      • Anonymous Coward

         /  22nd November 2016

        A) I don’t need to look it up
        B) Didn’t you recently lose someone? Did you visit their body, or their carcass?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  22nd November 2016

          It’s a convention to refer to the ‘body’, but the word doesn’t change the fact that what I saw was a corpse, the dead remains of a living person. Carcase is usually used of animals, isn’t it ? One talks about beef carcases, not beef bodies or corpses.

          My husband was dead, he had died-he hadn’t passed away, passed on or any other euphemism.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd November 2016

            I would think that 4000o would more or less vapourise a body, wouldn’t it ? There’d be nothing left to recover.

            And yes, carcase is a correct spelling of the word.

            Reply
            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              Is it still the 1700’s?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              No, it’s 2016-why ? Did you think that this was the 18th century ? It’s the 21st-only 300 years later.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  22nd November 2016

          Carcase is the English spelling of the word, and is still current.

          Reply
          • Anonymous Coward

             /  22nd November 2016

            To you Marlowe is still current.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              Yes, there are still people called that and a town called that. You are a very silly person indeed. The plays of Marlowe are still performed, so one could say that he is current in a sense.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              You remind me of someone AC. Just saying… 😀

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd November 2016

        Premeditated murder ? I hardly think so. If the powers that be wanted the mine closed, there were cheaper ways of doing it. It has cost who knows how many millions, five million to the families as compensation alone, so I can’t see how anyone could cnstrue the disaster as being because of an inexorable love of money. People who love money want to gain it, not spend it. What an absurd theory.

        And money spent by the government is taxpayers’ money, which seems to be overlooked by Dr Cohen, whoever he is-if he’s anyone real.

        Reply
        • Anonymous Coward

           /  22nd November 2016

          That’s what they want you to think, they’ve already won. If you can’t imagine it, you won’t believe it, and the illuminati are free to bump off whoever they want in whatever convoluted scheme they desire.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd November 2016

            I can’t imagine it because that sort of crime would be for gain, and the idea would be to make or save money, not spend many millions. If it was one, it was the Stupid Criminals of the century who did it.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              You and your style do seem familiar.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  22nd November 2016

              But the Rothschild/Bilderberg/Illuminati/City of London don’t need money, they’ve got it all. What they need is secrets kept, governments held in line, and our alien overlords protected.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              I think that I may know who you are, or rather what your previous names were-I hope that I am wrong. The person I am thinking of was most unpleasant and destructive and made themselves very unpopular.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              It’s YOU again, isn’t it ?

  4. We have literally thousands of New Zealanders buried overseas in war cemeteries and on ships sunk at sea that are regarded as War cemeteries. I don’t see a lot of difference in the case of those buried in a mine. Their entombment with an appropriate memorial plaque would give them identical treatment to our war heroes and other seamen. Let them be and don not disturb their resting place, they are at peace now. Just because a Prime Minister spoke too quickly if at all, makes no case for resurrection of ashes.

    Reply
  5. Finally here is access to the code of practice that Solid Energy is bound to follow under Health and Safety Laws. It is clear, there is no non-risk way to re-enter the mine without breaking the law, See http://www.worksafe.govt.nz/worksafe/information-guidance/all-guidance-items/fire-or-explosion-in-underground-mines-and-tunnels/acop-fire-explosion-mines-tunnels-pdf.

    Reply
    • Anonymous Coward

       /  22nd November 2016

      2.1.1 and 2.1.2 would rule Pike River right out.

      Operating types to which this Approved Code of Practice applies
      This Approved Code of Practice applies to all coal and metalliferous underground mines, and tunnels under construction, that meet the de nition in the legislation.1 2
      These operating types are de ned as below.
      2.1.1 General
      The content applies to any underground mine, or tunnel under construction, where people are working underground.
      2.1.2 Coal mine
      The content is speci c to underground mines where operations are focused on the exploration or extraction of coal, or metalliferous mines and tunnels where methane is present at levels greater than 0.25%.

      Reply
  6. Kitty Catkin

     /  22nd November 2016

    The mine may have been badly managed-but that won’t be cancelled out by sending people in to risk their lives for a few crumbs of bone. I agree with BJ, treat it like a war grave. Leave the miners where they are. Their memory is being treated with less dignity than they deserve by all this. The families are being set up for disappointment either way. I wonder if the union is behind all this.

    Reply
  7. John Schmidt

     /  22nd November 2016

    The mine temparture, when it was on fire, was measured in excess of 4000 degrees, at that temparture and the days that this temparture was sustained means there is nothing to recover except dust and dirt.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  22nd November 2016

      Well, a crematorium is 1400-1800 degrees, so that’s 2-3 times that. I have seen ‘ashes’ scattered and there wasn’t much there and nothing recognisable as having been a human being. I would say that any human body that has been through 4000+o will be, unlike what we call ashes, literally ashes. I don’t know how long a body’s in a crematorium, but it’s probably minutes.

      Reply
      • Klik Bate

         /  22nd November 2016

        A very good friend of ours in an Undertaker. He was telling us that they wait until they have at least 3 corpses available before using the Crematoria.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  22nd November 2016

          I hope that they don’t just put all the ashes together and divide them out 😀

          Reply
          • patupaiarehe

             /  22nd November 2016

            They probably do Kitty. Call me insensitive, but I really don’t understand the attachment that some folk have to the remains of their loved ones. IMHO, the body is just a vehicle for the soul. I have told my Ataahua Wahine that I wish to be ‘buried’ at sea, in a ventilated steel coffin with the lid welded shut. Only because I enjoy the thought of some poor boatie dragging me up on his anchor, a thousand years or so later, and thinking he has just caught a vampire… 😀

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              I am damned well going to be buried, as I paid a horrifying amount for a grave and want to make use of it. My husband’s religion is strongly in favour of burial, so I didn’t grudge it (in one sense) but I want to get my money’s worth. They double dig them now.

              The Viking funerals must have looked splendid.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              As you should be Kitty, if that is your wish. And a hundred years after your departure from this mortal coil, the folk around at that time might well look at your headstone, and wonder who this mysterious ‘Catkin Lady’ was…

            • Klik Bate

               /  22nd November 2016

              You’re the very reason Patu that I carry garlic on my boat 😎

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              Note to self – Tell wife to put a vacuum packed banana beside me in coffin 😛

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  22nd November 2016

              $2300 for a titchy bit of land and burial extra !

              I bought the cheapest coffin-which is what he wanted. He would have liked a plain pine one, thinking that this would be the cheapest, but it wasn’t anything like the cheapest ! The one he had looked perfectly good. Imagine spending thousands on a coffin-you might as well bury the money.

              Death notices are a bloody racket. Mine cost $130 (Waikato Times) and $160 (Herald) for who,loved husband of, when, where, ‘after a short illness’ and thanks to the staff of Ward X, the local Hospice and local RSA. I have seen some that must cost thousands-little biographies. People who know them would know these things and people who don’t wont be interested.

              I don’t know who did my mother’s one, but it sounded as if my brother and I were the parents of my stepfather’s children (who are all a lot older than we are) and had grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren. I mean, had these children etc together as a couple !

            • patupaiarehe

               /  22nd November 2016

              I guess it’s a bit like a cake Kitty. Ask for a nice birthday cake, and pay $50. Ask for a wedding cake, and it’s several hundred. To be fair to the Herald, they need to recover their costs from advertisers, since they don’t sell many papers nowadays… 😀

  8. patupaiarehe

     /  22nd November 2016

    There we go, getting ‘off topic’ again. Perhaps I should try to bring it back…
    If one were to put oneself in the shoes of a family member of one of the 29, what would you want? Personally, I would realize that attempting to recover any remains of my loved one was pointless after this long. However, I would still want answers. And re-entering the mine could provide some. IMHO, it needs to be done. Even if it only involves a few trained individuals walking in with full BA, and video cameras. Just to provide some closure for the families. Try to imagine your son/husband/nephew going to work one day, and never being seen again.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  22nd November 2016

      Probably the only things you could get out of the mine now would be dead robots and a map of the destruction. Is there really much more to be learnt about what happened in the mine? Seems that was the consequence of what happened outside it.

      Reply

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