Minister says “very low probability of recovery” of Pike River bodies

Andrew Little, the Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, has said what was obvious to many people, there “very low probability of recovery” of bodies from the Pike River mine. This is despite the cost of re-entry doubling, but Little also says he won’t seek any more funds.

NZ Herald – Pike River: Andrew Little says it is ‘just impractical’ to expect all bodies to be recovered

Andrew Little, says it is “just impractical” to expect the remains of all of the fallen miners to be recovered.

Instead, the re-entry efforts are now essentially solely focused on gathering evidence in the “homicide of 29 men”, Little told a select committee hearing this morning.

Speaking to MPs this morning, Little also revealed that there would be no further funding for re-entry.

“There is always a limit to these things – I have no plan or intention of returning to Cabinet for any further additional resources.”

He likened the recovery efforts to a police homicide investigation – “which is effectively what this is”.

He said the average homicide investigation is between $2m and $3m.

“We’re looking at the homicide of 29 men.”

This sounds like a new justification for the expense from Little.

Little said the cost to date can be justified, because this was a “tragedy that did not need to happen”.

He added… the re-entry efforts are focused on gathering evidence to help with the prosecution of those responsible for the death of the miners.

The goal, Little said, was to get to the pit bottom in stone where evidence – including instrumentation panels which will help determine the cause of the explosion – will likely be.

He said bringing the remains home was no longer an objective of the re-entry – he said it was “just impractical” given the complex technicalities of the mine’s geography.

But in terms of recovery of human remains, Little said he has always maintained there is a very low probability of recovery.

“I would put it as more than remote – but it is very low.”

I think that’s been obvious for a long time.

Stuff 2016: Winston Peters says Pike River re-entry is bottom line to election deals

Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a “bottom line” to any election deal made next year.

“I’m making no bones about it, we’ll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn’t have to be.”

“I didn’t want to be the first back in, I said when you have the first crew lining up to go back in, I’m offering to go,” Peters said.

Labour leader Andrew Little vowed he would do everything he could to open the site for re-entry should  Labour  be elected at the next election. Little had seen the report and spoken to experts personally, and he felt it was possible to enter the mine.

Winston Peters (Facebook) 2016:

My letter of support to the Pike River families.

We meet here today at New Zealand’s Parliament in saddened circumstances which should not be happening.

The tragedy of Pike River has been worsened by the aftermath of promises made to you that simply have not been kept.
You want to re-enter the mine tunnel, and to the extent that circumstances allow, find out as much as can be discovered and, more particularly, bring out any of your men where that is possible.

From the expert opinion which you have, and from generations of practical experience of the mining industry, you believe it is possible to re-enter.

So does New Zealand First.

You are not dissuaded by the bureaucratic, commercial and governmental roadblocks put in your way under the guise of protecting safety. Neither is New Zealand First.

As in the past we offer our complete support for the families to find out what they want to know. That is the only honest, decent, fair and correct thing to do.

As someone with some experience of working underground, in this case 11 miles underground as a “second-class miner” on the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and aware of some of the dangers, where on that project they lost a man a mile, I am that confident in the expert advice that you have that I am offering to be on the first party that goes back in.

Yours sincerely
Winston Peters

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement included “Commit to re-entry to Pike River.

In November 2017 Little was appointed Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry. His first announcement: Pike River Recovery Agency established

“The purpose of the agency is to gather evidence to better understand what happened in 2010, with an eye to preventing future mining tragedies and to give the Pike River families and victims’ overdue closure and peace of mind.

“The public can be confident that we are committed to transparent and impartial decision-making, based on robust advice about feasibility, safety and cost,” Mr Little said.

30 November 2017: Pike River Recovery Agency advice released

Mr Little says the Government is committed to being open and accountable, and there will be continued transparency as work progresses on the manned re-entry of the Pike River Mine drift.

“We’ve been up front with the families and public on what we are doing and that remains important in terms of trust and confidence in this process and its robustness.  That’s the sort of openness that this Government is committed to in how we work.

19 April 2018: Andrew Little enters Pike River portal

“The Pike River disaster was a national tragedy where 29 men went to work and never came home.

“Again, I’d like to acknowledge all the families who are working in partnership with me and the Coalition Government. We owe it to those families to re-enter the drift and retrieve evidence and the remains of their loved ones,” says Andrew Little.

14 November 2018: SPEECH – Andrew Little confirms Pike River Mine Drift re-entry plan to proceed

This government – and the three parties that make it up – committed to fulfilling the original promise made to the families of the 29 miners and workers: to do everything practicably possible to re-enter the drift to recover any remains, and to better understand the cause or causes of the original explosion on 19 November 2010.

Recovering remains was suggested as the first priority,. but that was absent a few months later.

12 March 2019: Pike River Mine re-entry

“We’re hopeful that work in the drift will enable the Agency and Police to thoroughly investigate what can be found there and find clues to what caused this dreadful tragedy. This is about looking for clues to what caused the explosion that killed 29 men on 19 November 2010. The recovery operation is led by the Agency and supported by Police, who will be on site managing forensic work from the start of the re-entry,” says Andrew Little.

That linked to https://www.pikeriverrecovery.govt.nz/background/faq/

What are the chances you’ll recover bodies?
The last known location of the men placed them in the mine workings beyond the roof fall, so it is unlikely that we will recover human remains.  Approximately 1600m of the drift has been examined using robots and camera footage, and about 600m is unexplored. Given it was shift change at the time of the explosion, with men going in and out, there is a possibility that human remains could be found in the drift.  As part of the detailed forensic examination, any human remains that are found will be treated and recovered with care and respect.

21 May 2019: Pike River Re-entry

More than eight years after 29 men went to work at the Pike River Coal Mine and never came home, the promise to re-enter the mine drift has been honoured.

“New Zealand is not a country where 29 people can die at work without real accountability. That is not who we are. And that is why today we have fulfilled our promise. Today we have returned,” Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little said.

That wasn’t their only promise, but body recovery seems to have been dropped.

But not entirely. From the Pike River Recovery website: Work programme

Recovery

Following the 21 May 2019 re-entry, and stepping through the 170m barrier on 17 December 2019, the recovery phase has now begun. This involves gathering evidence along the 2.3km drift; and, if possible, recovering any human remains

4 December 2019: Next phase of Pike River recovery underway in time for Christmas

“This Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to the Pike River families and all New Zealanders. We need to find out as much as possible about what caused 29 men to go to work and not come home. The safe recovery of the mine drift, and its forensic examination, is part of an overdue act of justice.”

Again no mention of body recovery.

17 March 2020:  Final costs for Pike River recovery released

Andrew Little also confirmed that, as has been the scope since the start of the project, the recovery effort will not be going beyond the end of the drift and into the main mine workings.

“The Coalition government remains committed to the safe and successful recovery and forensic examination of the Pike River drift. It is important to promote accountability for what happened, to inform the ongoing criminal investigation into the tragedy, and to help prevent future tragedies,” Andrew Little said.

While this mentions “successful recovery” there is no mention of bodies or remains.

But it links to a Cabinet Paper which states:

Background

7. The Agency was established in January 2018 to conduct a safe manned reentry and recovery of the Pike River Mine drift to:
7.1. Gather evidence to better understand what happened in 2010 with an eye to preventing future mining tragedies and promoting accountability for this mining tragedy;

7.2. Give the Pike River families and victims overdue closure and peace of mind; and

7.3. Recover human remains where possible.

But Little has now explicitly said there is “very low probability of recovery” of Pike River bodies.

I presume this has already been made clear to the families of the men killed in the mine.

Grant Robertson to Business NZ on “Our Plan to Respond and Recover”

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson addressed Business NZ today, and ‘filled out further detail’ of: “…our plan for the response and recovery from COVID19, through the first wave of the immediate response, to the second wave of kickstarting the economy and the third wave where we reset and rebuild our nation from this once in a century shock.”

He also spoke on “the economic context… what our exit from Level 4 and moves through Level 3 and Level 2 look and feels like”.

The following has the Government self praise edited out.


Our Plan to Respond and Recover

Wave One: Fight The Virus and Cushion the Blow

Our initial $12 billion package included an initial $500 million boost for health, wage subsidies for affected businesses in all sectors and regions, a $2.8 billion income support package for our most vulnerable, a $100 million worker redeployment package, $2.8 billion in business tax changes to free up cashflow encourage investment, and support working from home, and a $600 million aviation support package.

We have continued to add to and modify the range of policies aimed at cushioning the blow of COVID-19 on New Zealanders.

We’ve put together the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, alongside the Reserve Bank and retail banks. The Scheme is designed to help enable banks to provide credit to customers where otherwise the bank may not be willing to do so.

Nine banks have signed up to participate in the scheme including ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Heartland Bank, HSBC, Kiwibank, SBS Bank, TSB and Westpac. Over the weekend I signed the deed, executing the agreement between the Crown and the banks, with some banks now able to deliver on the scheme as of yesterday.

We’ve also recently announced changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency remain viable.

These changes include giving directors of companies a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency duties under the Companies Act, enabling businesses to place existing debts into hibernation, allowing the use of electronic signatures, and giving temporary relief for entities that are unable to comply with requirements in their constitutions or rules because of COVID-19.

In addition to these changes, this morning we announced a suite of further support measures for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

Our tax loss carry-back scheme will allow a large number of businesses to access their previous tax payments as cash refunds, at an estimated benefit of $3.1 billion.

We are bringing forward the tax loss continuity rules to make it easier for firms to raise new capital without losing the tax benefit of their existing losses. This is a useful initiative particularly for start-up companies.

Using established services including the Regional Business Partner Network and the helplines run by the Employers and Manufacturers Association and Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, we are providing $25 million to fund specialist, tailored advice to where it is needed, fast. We have been getting clear feedback that particularly small and medium enterprises are asking for support on business continuity.

We have also introduced measures to support commercial tenants and landlords.

Many businesses may be finding it difficult or impossible to pay rent if they are no longer able to access their property, and if landlords are not receiving rent, they may not be able to meet their mortgage obligations.

As a result, the Government will extend the current 10 working day timeframe that commercial landlords may cancel the lease to 30 working days. This will be for both the period the tenant is in arrears before the notice is given, and for the period to remedy the breach.

The Government will also extend the timeframes for lenders from 20 to 40 working days for mortgaged land, and from 10 to 20 working days for mortgaged goods.

Wave Two: Kickstarting the Economy

The guidance we are releasing on Thursday for coming out of Level 4 will give businesses and workers a much better idea of what the more medium-term picture looks like for them, for the economy, and for society.

We have a range of workstreams well underway aimed at the medium term positioning for recovery.  I will mention some critical ones today.

  • We have established the Economically Significant Business Group inside the Treasury to guide our work with New Zealand’s major businesses.  We have brought in outside commercial expertise to support this, and have begun conversations with a range of network critical businesses.  There are a variety of options available should the Government need to support businesses that are essential to our recovery and our supply chains.  We showed with our $900 million package for Air New Zealand what we can do.
  • Phil Twyford and Shane Jones have tasked the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group to prepare a list of infrastructure projects and programmes from across central and local government, and the private sector, that are shovelready. These could be deployed as part of a stimulatory package as soon as the construction industry returns to normal.

The Reference Group is headed by the Chair of Crown Infrastructure Partners, Mark Binns.  It is supported by the work David Parker is doing in terms of changes to the RMA and consenting process to move things forward as quickly as possible.

Phil Twyford and Shane Jones have also continued to work on redeployment support, especially in our regions and they will have more announcements to make about that in the near future.

  • Megan Woods as Housing Minister is working to bring forward projects that will drive not only jobs, but also deal with our long term housing issues.
  • I have asked Chris Hipkins to lead the work on the critical training and employment support programme that has to take place from here.  Thousands of New Zealanders are going to need to retrain, gain new skills and support the kickstarting of our economy.  This work is in partnership with business, with unions and with training providers.
  • The Prime Minister, drawing on advice from her Business Advisory Group, has called for the creation of the world’s smartest border.  Using technology and our ‘natural moat’ as she calls it, to give us not just protection against the virus but a window to a future where we can move people and goods safely again.
  • Winston Peters and David Parker are charting a new course for trade and diplomacy in a radically changed world.  We need to continue to trade, and look again at our relationships to see how we can leverage our natural advantages and excellent progress on controlling the virus.

In every sector of our economy and society we have a need, and an opportunity, to come through the other side of this with a strong recovery plan. We have tasked all Ministers with reaching out to their sector to help develop these plans.

The Budget will be a Recovery Budget. It will include funding for the cost pressures that are necessary part of keeping our country ticking over.  But we will devote much of our resources to kickstarting this recovery.

Wave Three:  Reset and Rebuild

We have formed a core Ministerial Oversight Group for this work with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, myself and Minister Parker.  We will soon be reaching out to both Ministerial colleagues but also the private sector, unions and more to have input into this work.

Climate Change will continue to be a major challenge long after the effects of this pandemic have been mitigated. As Rod Carr raised yesterday, our economic recovery needs to be one where emissions continue to reduce and more sustainable technologies are invested in and taken up.

New Zealand has had a long-run problem of low productivity. We need to look at our uptake of new technology and new ways of working to ensure that this problem does not again become baked into the New Zealand economy through our recovery.

We’ve seen through this virus what happens when sectors and industries are overly reliant on certain markets for their export revenue. New Zealand must always remain a trading nation, but we will need to look at greater diversification of our export markets to make sure we are prepared for any future shocks to trade networks.

The importance of the role of the state has been underlined by this crisis.

I believe it is of the utmost importance that the state continues to play an active part in the economic recovery, providing leadership and direction as we move forward through the challenging times ahead.

Economic context

This is largely a preamble to the announcement being made tomorrow “guidance for how businesses could operate under reduced alert levels and what measures need to be taken for them to do so” so we might as well wait for what is released tomorrow.

Whakaari/White Island: death toll rises to 15, recovery attempt to continue

Divers continue to search for the two remaining bodies at Whakaari/White Island. Another death in hospital has raised the toll to 15 (many of the survivors had been critically injured).

RNZ: Police confirm another death

The person who died was being treated at Waikato Hospital, police said.

It is believed 47 people were on or close to Whakaari / White Island when it erupted on Monday. With two people still missing on or around the island after the eruption, that brings the total number of deaths to 17.

Six bodies were recovered from the island yesterday but two have not yet been found.

Police report yesterday afternoon: Dive squad continue to search waters off Whakaari/White Island

Divers in the water around Whakaari / White Island today continue to face unique and challenging conditions.

A team of nine from the Police National Dive Squad resumed their search at 7am today for a body seen in the water following Monday’s volcanic eruption.

The water around the island is contaminated, requiring the divers to take extra precautions to ensure their safety, including using specialist protective equipment.

Divers have reported seeing a number of dead fish and eels washed ashore and floating in the water.

Each time they surface, the divers are decontaminated using fresh water.

Conditions in the water today are not optimal, with between zero and two metres visibility depending on location.

The dive operation will be boosted this afternoon with personnel from the Navy dive team.

Dive Squad at Whakaari/White Island

Attributed to Deputy Commissioner John Tims, National Operations Commander

The recoverry of 6 bodies on Friday was a lot more demanding and risky than some pushing for a speedy resolution seemed to appreciate.

Stuff: Gruelling recovery mission pushed soldiers ‘past the limit’

Wading through boiling, knee-deep acidic sludge, the team of experienced specialist soldiers tasked with recovering six bodies from Whakaari/White Island looked at each other in doubt.

The battle-hardened veterans from the Defence Force’s SAS E Sqaudron team had never found themselves in a situation like this before.

Underneath three layers of special garments their bodies were drenched in sweat, gas masks fogging up, claustrophobic heat attacking their resolve. There was a six per cent chance of being consumed in another eruption.

Growing pressure to retrieve the bodies had spurred the authorities into action, and a plan was made to go in at first light on Friday morning before they became entombed.

It was when they reached the bodies at the island’s crater that they hit dense mud, and had difficulty lifting equipment over sharp ravines.

“It was unbelievable, not a condition we train for or ever expect to operate in, it’s just so much hotter than you could expect.”

With their heavy apparatus, the team worked quickly in pairs to move the bodies to a central location, where a helicopter transported them to the HMNZS Wellington navy ship, a short distance from the island.

Once the team got back to the HMNZS boat themselves many of them were “pretty crook”, Matt said.

“We are talking about people trying to re-hydrate at sea”, Colonel Rian McKinstry said.

“There were a few people vomiting, drinking water, and everyone was very fatigued.”

All recovery team members have since been medically checked and assessed as healthy, McKinstry said.

The team went to their depths to complete this mission, he said.

I think that serious consideration has to be given to not allowing tourism to continue at Whakaari. It will cost the company that runs the tours and it will impact significantly on business in Whakatane.

Stuff; Ngāti Awa’s $9m volcano

Ngāti Awa paid $9 million to buy White Island Tours in 2017 in a bid to expand its asset base, and develop employment for Iwi members.

That investment now looks to be severely impaired as there is doubt tourist trips to Whakaari/White Island will ever happen again following an eruption on the volcano which is now confirmed to have killed 14 people.

White Island Tours had just turned profitable for the iwi with revenue having expanded from $500,000 to $4.5m, the latest Iwi Investment report showed, and optimism was high.

It must have always been recognised as a very risky investment.

And the cost of the disaster must be far greater.

Today from Stuff Live: Recovery team returns to island to search for victim

The recovery team undertaking the operation on Whakaari / White Island has landed on the island, police confirmed.

 

 

Body recovery at Whakaari/White Island under way today

An attempt will be made to recover all eight bodies from Whakaari/White Island today. There is still seismic activity on the island but it appears to have settled a little. Geonet still say there is a significant chance of another eruption and have declared the area a red zone.

Defence Force helicopters have taken off and headed towards Whakaari this morning.

From the Police last night: Whakaari/White Island recovery operation

Statement from Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement

Tomorrow morning we have a plan, the resources and the capability to the recover the bodies on Whakaari / White Island.

The plan is contingent on a number of risk factors which will be assessed at the time. These factors include the conditions on the island and the weather.

Tomorrow morning New Zealand Defence Force assets and people with specialist capabilities from Defence, Police and other agencies will undertake the operation. Returning the bodies on the island to their loved ones remains our focus.

We have the right people with the right skills and the right equipment.

We will make every effort to recover all of the bodies however our plan is subject to things beyond our control such as the island and the weather.

A lot has to go right for us tomorrow to make this work.

There is no zero risk option in regard to the plan but we have carefully considered it. We don’t expect the risk to change tonight or tomorrow but we have planned for it.

RNZ: Police plan to recover bodies tomorrow morning

Police say the plan to recover the bodies from Whakaari / White Island tomorrow morning will take several hours, and still carries a lot of risk.

Shortly after first light tomorrow, NZ Defence Force assets with specialised equipment will go on to the island and make every effort to recover the bodies, Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said.

Police have not yet returned to the island to retrieve any bodies there as it has been deemed too dangerous.

At the same time, the risks have increased, with GNS Science late morning raising its forecast likelihood of a major eruption from 40-50 percent, to 50-60 percent in the next 24 hours.

Clement told media in Whakatāne this evening that it was still a risky operation and police had to be very cautious.

He said he expected the mission it to take several hours, “the balance of the morning” and police did not expect anything to change overnight in terms of risk.

“The risk has not gone,” he said.

He said GNS scientists would be part of the team, not going on to the island but going out on the HMNZS Wellington ship to provide analysis and support.

As well as the ship, there would be helicopters involved and specialist staff. He said the technical decisions on the ground would belong to the New Zealand Defence Force, and their plans had been designed to change depending on circumstances.

The plan is for the remains to be helicoptered onto the navy ship Wellington, which is waiting close by the island, and shipped back to Auckland.

Geonet (5:00 pm Thursday): Whakaari/White Island eruption: Update #7

Volcanic tremor remains high, however no further eruptions have occurred since Monday 9 December. There is a medium likelihood (50-60%) of future eruptive activity in the next 24 hours. The Volcanic Alert Level remains at Level 2.

Since the eruption on Monday, there has been no further eruptive activity. In the last few hours, volcanic tremor has decreased but it is still very high compared to normal levels. Vigorous steam and mud bursts continue from the active vent area.

The combined interpretation of our data is that magma is degassing at shallow depths and the situation remains highly volatile.

Another gas flight was completed today, and the data is currently being analysed to support our ongoing understanding of the volcano.

There is still a medium likelihood (50-60%) of eruptive activity in the next 24 hours. We have updated the eruption probability table.

Volcanic tremor at Whakaari/White Island since 12 November 2019:

So it is at it’s most active in the last 12 months and is significantly more active than leading up to Monday’s eruption.

From a thread by @NandorTanczos on the delay in recovering the bodies on Whakaari from Phil Van Dusschoten, Diveworks Charters, Whakatāne, 12/12/19:

This morning I attended a meeting with Commercial boat operators, other town reps and the Police.

Several high ranking officers from Auckland, A member of the Disaster Victim Identification squad and a member of the Deodar Police launch crew. Discussion revolved around the seemingly unnecessary delay in recovering the deceased.

The best information came from the DVI member.

Key points

  1. The Island is still in a potentially sudden explosive state. A White Island Tours skipper said that this eruption was like a bomb going off with shrapnel going off and only about 3 seconds from seeing the first unusual puff of steam to encountering the full blast.
  2. A thick layer of ash has changed the landscape, covered the tracks etc. and it is this layer of ash that contains the toxic and noxious gases that is releasing more so when disturbed. This is the problem gas and not that being visibly emitted from the crater and surrounds.
  3. He further advised that attempts to mitigate the gas using masks and standard breathing apparatus equipment were unsuccessful and highly limited. We were told that specialist suits and re-breather equipment was on it way as we spoke.
  4. Victim identification. The want for rapid identification allowing sooner release of bodies is paramount therefore scene examination rather than just grabbing the bodies was desirable. Bits of clothing and other means of identification on or near bodies being one of the means.

Secondary was the preservation of fingerprints with those easily being lost in this type of disaster. Other means of identification, teeth and DNA would take much longer. That is why after so many days a proper recovery is desired.

I made the following comments:

  1. The lack of information coming to the public was unfair leading to mis- information and speculation. That the information just given to us by the head of DVI should be release asap to give the public a little more understanding. They agreed.
  2. Have you actually located by drone or other method the location of each body?
    Answer: we have located 6 in situ. and we have seen one in the water which we could not recover due to sea conditions. Police and Navy divers are on their way. So one, possibly more unaccounted for.
  3. Once recovered can you assure us that the bodies will be returned via Whakatane and not just whisked off by helicopter or other to another destination . I feel the town needs this first for some sort of closure.
    Answer: If possible we will return the bodies to Whakatane
  4. When all the bodies on the Island are recovered how much longer will the 5 mile exclusion zone stay in place.
    Answer: From the Harbourmaster.. Unknown.

I don’t  see why the bodies should go to Whakatane first. What for? The priority should be on victim identification and autopsies, and Whakatane isn’t likely to be set up for that. If recovered bodies are taken to the Wellington (navy ship) then logistically it would probably be difficult to take them to Whakatane.

POLICE UPDATE – Whakaari / White Island body recovery

Statement attributable to Deputy Commissioner John Tims, National Operations Commander

This morning a blessing was held at sea with representatives of the families of the victims of the Whakaari / White Island volcanic eruption.

The family representatives are returning to the mainland and the operation to recover the eight bodies on the island has commenced.

The weather is overcast (so shore photos of Whakaari don’t show the level of emissions) and calm.

It is a Defence Force operation with Defence Force staff only going on to the island.


It has been reported that the recovery is well under way.

From RNZ Live:

Mark Inman, the brother of tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman spoke with media earlier this morning.

He said the families are just appreciative that something is really happening now.

“It’s a credit to those three key people for me – who were Mike, Anaru and William – who came down to a personal level and listened to the families and listened to their wants and needs and saw it from a human side of things.

“It’s a credit to Ngāti Awa as well for giving us the time and opportunities to take the families out to the island and have some closure. As a cultural thing, that’s amazing. As a nation we’re blessed. The Australians on the boat with us, they felt it.

They were inclusive, it was just incredible, proud to be a Kiwi. Obviously there was a lot of emotion. It was a really spiritual, fulfilling morning. It was one of those moments that you’re proud to be a New Zealander, proud to be amongst the Māori culture, and credit to Ngāti Awa for providing that opportunity to the families”

When talking of the families being welcomed back to shore he said, “It’s the New Zeland way and it’s just magic, truly special.”

Slater active recovering from stroke

Cameron Slater seems to have made a rapid recovery from what was claimed to be a severely debilitating stroke.

He stopped posting at Whale Oil when he had the stroke in later October 2018. Soon afterwards he continued commenting occasionally, but there seemed to be a blackout of any mention of the stroke or why he had stopped posting for several months, until an announcement on 21 January – ‘Where the hell is Cam?’

Cam suffered a serious stroke that left him partially paralysed down his right side and totally paralysed in his right arm including his hand and fingers as well as severe impairment in higher order functioning and moderate speech impairment.

Now that more than two months have passed, we have decided it is time to let you, our loyal audience, know what has been going on behind the scenes.

Progress is being made, but it is very long and very hard. Cam cannot concentrate, read or take phone calls for more than ten or fifteen minutes a day. He cannot cope with loud noises, background noises or being interrupted and he certainly does not have the ability to form complex thought structures. The vision in Cam’s right eye has also been affected.

However, it would be untrue to pretend that we don’t need your help. Much as it pains us to ask others for help, we have concluded that we must ask for your assistance in helping Cam pay the huge legal bills he has incurred as a result of having to defend himself from the lawfare of his enemies.

That coincided with ongoing legal challenges, which raised questions about how incapacitated Slater actually was. Anyone would be stressed by the legal and financial holes he had dug himself into. Unrepentant and continuing to claim to be the victim didn’t help his cause.

Slater filed for bankruptcy in February, citing legal bills.

The company in which Slater was a shareholder and director that operated Whale Oil until some ownership switches in February went into liquidation in March.

Yesterday on Whale Oil:

Having just spent a bit of time with the boss I can tell you a couple of things.

He’ll be back if he chooses to be.

The mans grit and fortitude are unbelievable.
We had a reasonably active weekend and he stayed the course and even after he’d already told me he was knackered he then walked another kilometer.

Then the bloke that had lost all use of his right arm a few short months ago and has only regained a portion of its use and is in constant pain, picks up his shotgun, takes 3 practice swings and then proceeds to blow 9 out of 10 clay pigeons out of the air using the 2nd barrel only once.
If I hadn’t seen it (and scored it) I wouldn’t have believed it.

Bloody amazing man.
I hope Fisher sees this and chokes on his lactose free vegan soup.

So it sounds like Slater has made a rapid recovery. That’s good.

And according to this he is choosing not to go back to posting at Whale Oil at this stage.

 

 

Pike River re-entry costs escalate

A ‘concept plan’ for re-entry into the Pike River mine to recover miners’ bodies has been presented to their families by the Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry Andrew Little (actually three alternative options), but with that is a bigger than previously estimated cost.

RNZ: Pike River re-entry: ‘Concept plan’ presented to families

A plan for re-entering the drift of the Pike River Mine has been presented to victims’ familes in Greymouth this morning.

The plan is being described as a “concept plan” with more detailed planning to follow if it is approved.

Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry Andrew Little, and Pike River Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn have been talking to the relatives of the 29 men killed in the mine in 2010.

Mr Little said the families were now discussing the plan and he hoped to give it the go-ahead on Monday.

However, he said he expected they would approve the concept plan.

“My sense is the families are really happy with the level of work that has been done, the quality of ther work. They seem pretty satisfied with it … They’re keen for the project to continue to make progress, so that we re-enter the drift and recover as much as we can.”

RNZ:  Pike River Mine re-entry narrowed to three options

The planned re-entry to the Pike River mine has been narrowed to three options.

Mining specialists, Pike River Recovery Agency staff and family members of the 29 men killed in the 2010 blast were on the West Coast for a second workshop aimed at coming up with a plan for manned re-entry of the mine drift.

A panel of technical experts will now shift the focus to three scenarios which are now being developed further.

The scenarios include:

  • building a new two by two-metre tunnel around 200m long;
  • drilling a large diameter borehole;
  • re-entering the main drift as it is with no second means of egress (exit).

The aim is to try and find out what happened in order to prevent any further tragedies, to give the families closure and where possible, retrieve any remains found in the drift, the agency said.

Dinghy Pattinson, the recovery agency’s chief operating officer, said he was confident they would get back in.

“Any mining activity has dangers or risks involved, so it’s a matter of just identifying those risks throughout the whole process and having your controls in place,” Mr Pattinson said.

“If there was any real danger then that would be a show-stopper, so at this stage all the risks identified – I feel confident we can manage them.”

Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn said they had made bigger steps during this workshop.

“We still anticipate entering the mine before the end of the year, and we still think that’s achievable. This workshop is only step number two in a number yet to take,” Mr Gawn said.

He said among the steps was a detailed risk analysis of the preferred options.

It sounds like they are still far from certain how to get back into the mine, how risky it would be – and how much it would cost, even they they don’t yet know how they will do it.

Stuff: Pike River re-entry could cost $12m more than $23m budget, minister says

The plan to re-enter the Pike River mine could cost up to $12 milllion more than the $23 million budget, Stuff understands.

The Government had budgeted $7.6 million a year for three years, totalling up to $23m, for the Pike River Recovery Agency and re-entry to the mine.

When asked if he had told Cabinet the agency would need up to $12m more, Little said one of the options could cost up to that amount, but others would be less than that.

“We won’t know exactly what the figures are until more detailed work has been done.

While there remains a lot of doubt about how a re-entry would be achieved the expected cost seems to keep escalating.

I understand that some families really want the bodies of some miners recovered (some families don’t see the need).

What if the option chosen is the more expensive one – $35 million – and they get into the mine and they can’t find or can’t recover all of the bodies? What if bodies unrecovered are from families that most want them recovered? What then? Keep spending until they find and recover them all?

What if they can’t find out the cause of the explosions?