Dave Feickert

January 21st, 2011 at 3:35 pm by David Farrar

Stuff is running an NZPA story:

The tragedy at the Coal mine would not have happened if New Zealand had maintained a mining inspector programme canned more than a decade ago, a mining specialist says.

A chief inspector would have noticed the dangerous levels of gases pooling at the West Coast mine, and the 29 men who died in explosions from November 19 on would still be alive.

Safety officials do monitor mines around the country, but the system was inferior to the inspector system that was used until the late 1990s, said.

I am automatically suspicious of any so called expert who without any evidence at all claims the mine explosion would not have happened if x had been done. Considering we have a Royal Commission about to hear actual evidence on what caused the explosion, you wonder about the motives of someone who states opinion as fact.

It was not right that Prime Minister John Key was making decisions about mine safety because he was not an expert in the area, Mr Feickert said.

“No wonder the families of the 29 dead are furious. So they should be.”

I get even more suspicious when this expert makes a personal attack on the PM which is factually incorrect (Key has not made any decisions), and is encouraging the families to blame John Key.

Then a birdie from Whanganui tells me that Mr Feickert is in fact the Chairman of the Whanganui Party. Suddenly it all makes sense.

A google search has not verified he is currently a Labour Party Chairman, but what it does reveal is that Feickert is:

  • a former top official in the militant British National Union of Mineworkers
  • the CTU unions Wanganui secretary
  • a member of the NZ Labour Party
  • supported Arthur Scargill in 1984 UK strikes

This is not to say that Feickert does not know a lot about mining. He does. But by not reporting he is a militant unionist and labour party office holder, then people don’t understand the context of why he is attacking John Key on false grounds.

UPDATE: Now confirmed that Feickert is (or at least was earlier this year) Labour’s Whanganui chairman.

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84 Responses to “Dave Feickert”

  1. Angus (536 comments) says:

    Labour/Union functionaries are still trying to politicize this tragedy. (like the Doncs have in the US over the Arizona shootings)

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  2. big bruv (13,672 comments) says:

    So another Labour low life who will stoop as low as he can to score cheap political points.

    Sounds familiar.

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  3. lofty (1,305 comments) says:

    Outrageous! But not surprising.

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  4. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Feickert is another red wolf dressed in sheep clothes, a sort of Andrew Little of mining.

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  5. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    I get even more suspicious when this expert makes a personal attack on the PM which is factually incorrect (Key has not made any decisions),

    hmmmm

    At a media conference today Key indicated the mine would probably be sealed.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/4540263/PM-Pike-River-mine-to-be-sealed

    The Pike River mine will be sealed and there is little or no chance of the bodies of 29 men killed being recovered in the near future, says Prime Minister John Key.

    Mr Key said today it was “obviously a very tragic end for the families”.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Pike-River-to-be-sealed—John-Key/tabid/423/articleID/194352/Default.aspx

    He had previously said the government was fully committed to removing the bodies of the 29 miners and contractors who died in a blast in the mine in November to give the families full closure.

    “That is just not possible. It is not an issue of money or time or commitment,” Mr Key said today.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10699683

    For someone “not making decisions” he has a lot to say on the issue.

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  6. Spam (598 comments) says:

    How often do mine inspectors visit mines? Every 6 months or so? So to ‘ have noticed the dangerous levels of gases pooling’, assumes that the gasses have been ‘pooling’ for in excess of 6 months. I highly doubt that. And I also suspect that if the gasses had been pooling for 6 months, then Pike River would have noticed it.

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  7. Spam (598 comments) says:

    For someone “not making decisions” he has a lot to say on the issue.

    So do you. Did you make the decision to close-in the mine?

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  8. Pete George (23,422 comments) says:

    Mr Feickert is correct, if there had been mine inspectors permanently monitoring the mine there would have been a better chance of picking up serious problems and intervening before the explosion occured. As Spam notes, permanent inspectors on each shift would have been unlikely.

    Mr Feickert (or Stuff) then divert to blame Key for something different but associating him to the previous criticism. In fact if mines inspectors should have been reinstated then another PM had much more time in which to do it. I don’t think either PMs are to blame, but implicating one is being disingenuous.

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  9. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Isn’t it interesting that the scum always seems to float to the top of the pond, just what we need a proven rabble rouser stirring up this mess again.
    What would be good to know is who was in government when the decision to remove the inspectors was made, mean while it looks like David Fuckert will carry on apportioning blame and winding up grieving families.

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  10. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,873 comments) says:

    Another snivelling North Country Pommy union hack.

    Did you notice the decision to axe the much vaunted ‘mine inspectors’ (a euphemism for union recruiters) took place in the vaguely described ‘late nineteen nineties.’ Oh dear of dear. Is it possible the decision was made by Labour and these pricks are trying to imply it was made by National?

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  11. Innocent bystander (163 comments) says:

    I am no fan of the current government but Key and Brownlee’s handling of Pyke River to date has been admirable. Key gets a lot of well deserved flak for being “Mr Smile and Wave” but on both this and the Canterbury Earthquake Key has actually stood up and looked Prime Ministerial (like a leader basically) and has done a bloody good job. Labour’s efforts to politicise and score points off tragedy is pretty vile.

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  12. kowtow (8,138 comments) says:

    Keep your eye on the ball folks.

    DPF notes the story by NZPA should have noted Feickers Labour credentials,why didn’t they? Who authored this story?

    Note Feckers’ little anti NZ dig by saying the comrades in the Peoples’ Paradise are ahead of us here….yeah right .

    This story also neatly illustrates why the so called MSM is going the way it is and the importance of blogs. Keep the bastards honest.

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  13. lofty (1,305 comments) says:

    eee oop, thee bastards know it were the bloody bosses what caused this crime.

    Bloody tories supported the capitalist exploiting buggers, thee know it eee ba gum!

    – Sorry about the poor accent ;-)

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  14. Minnie (98 comments) says:

    “- Sorry about the poor accent”

    Cos of the surname I imagined the accent was Irish like Father Jack Hackett…”feckit”. In fact on re-reading the NZPA story in Irish it all kinda seems likes something from a father Ted episode.

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  15. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,066 comments) says:

    supported Arthur Scargill in 1984 UK strikes

    Hard to believe he didn’t disclose this when commenting on New Zealand mine safety twenty six years later.

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  16. Nookin (3,258 comments) says:

    Mining Inspectors were appointed under the Mining Act 1971. This Act was repealed and replaced (variously) by the Resource Management Act 1991, Crown Minerals Act and Health and Safety in Employment Act. Repeal was effective from 1 April, 1993.

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  17. Pete George (23,422 comments) says:

    The tragedy at the Pike River Coal mine would not have happened if New Zealand had maintained a mining inspector programme.

    No one can guarantee that it would not have happened, no matter how many mines inspectors there were.

    Mines inspecting was reviewed in 2006.

    What can you tell us about the review of mining in 2006?

    The Government ordered a review of the health and safety framework for underground mining in 2006. The context for the review was the inherently hazardous nature of underground mining, its potential for catastrophic events and public concern over two fatalities in 2006. Both involved smaller mines – Black Reef which had three staff and Roa mine which employs around 35 people.

    The review identified that the performance-based approach under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992 is sound. The priority issue identified was health and safety issues in small mines and the Department is implementing the Government’s decisions in respect of the review.

    Regarding large underground mines, the review raised some issues about worker participation and the need for technical standards to support the mining regulations. This work is actively being progressed by the Department.

    Five of the 17 submitters said their preferred option was for employee-elected check inspectors to be introduced. The option was not recommended by the Department because the international literature did not confirm it as necessarily the best approach in the New Zealand context, and the existing Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992 employee participation provisions provide similar rights and functions for trained health and safety representatives.

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  18. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    So typical bullshit from an interest party with an agenda BUT why is this ‘story’ regurgitated by the media without even the simplest checks? It took you, what, one email and a 5 second google search to work out this doofus is about as independent as a snake in a mouse farm.

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  19. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,873 comments) says:

    Well there you go Nookin. If this fool cant get a few simple background facts right, why would anyone take any notice of anything else he has to say?

    “Safety officials do monitor mines around the country, but the system was inferior to the inspector system that was used until the late 1990s, Dave Feickert said. “

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  20. Innocent bystander (163 comments) says:

    @GPT1 – I always go for cockup over conspiracy. Journalists are far more likely to be lazy, incompetant, inexperienced or just running to tight deadlines than they are to have a bias for any particular party. Also all the really good journalists are employed writing spin leaving the bad ones to copy press releases word for word and call it news.

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  21. jacko (7 comments) says:

    Typical responses from the rabid right trying to cover up for the under-funding of safety in the Pike River mine.

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  22. ciaron (1,415 comments) says:

    good on ya jacko

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  23. DT (104 comments) says:

    (sighs). Oh David, why must you view everything as political. The man is a mine safety expert and he was offering his professional opinion…

    I guess that we won’t know how the decision was made to end the police operation in the mine unless minutes of meetings between senior police officials and ministers (including the Prime Minister) are released. These things are never straight forward. Police may have gone to Ministers to inform them that they would end the operation – then it would not have been a political decision. On the other hand, if police went to Ministers and laid out the facts and options, and Ministers said “okay, lets shut it then”, then that is a political decision, even if the facts that were given to them strongly indicated that was what police recommended.

    I strongly suspect the latter – that even if police had themselves concluded that it was best not to continue the recovery, that they nevertheless waited for the Minister of Police/Minister of Economic Development/Prime Minister to make the call. Officials are seldom brave enough to make calls as controversial as this one without the call first coming from Ministers.

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  24. flipper (3,935 comments) says:

    Sorry David…

    This is a diversion from a serious issue which you have covered well and one which exposes the Labour party functionary as a charlatan…….. BUT….Notwithstanding all the BS from Api Invoice’s Geograplic Board, Wanganui is still WANGANUI.
    NO MORE PC / FAIRFAX crap please DPF.

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  25. Nookin (3,258 comments) says:

    Department of Labour, as the department responsible for OSH, does continue to employ mining inspectors, however.
    I would like to know from Mr Fiekert:
    1: What technological advances relating to safety have been made in mining over the last 10-15 years and to what extent have these advances obviated the need for regular inspections (indeed, how “regular” were they compared with current OSH activity?)
    2. What information he has, specifically, about monitoring gas at Pike River to the extent that he can say that it was inadequate.
    3. How can he say with such certainty that the problem that Pike River would have been identified on a routine visit such as occurred 10-15 years ago
    4. What, specifically, would a mining inspector have told Pike River to do that they were not already doing.
    5. Given that John Key has not made a single decision in regard to safety issues, and has not at any time pretended to have any expertise, why should we regard the rest of his views as anything other than fiction and blind propaganda

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  26. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    IB – I agree in terms of cock up over conspiracy but it’s frustrating that there is not even the most rudimentary checking of a story before filing it.

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  27. Rex Widerstrom (5,343 comments) says:

    It may come as a shock to some of you, but being a socialist – even a loudmouthed pommy unionist socialist – doesn’t automatically render everything you say a pile of garbage.

    Yes, I know… take a moment to sit down and get over the shock if you like.

    Take out the ridiculous political attack on John Key, with which Mr Feickert does his credibilty no favours, and you’re left with a simple fact, enunciated by Pete George above:

    if there had been mine inspectors permanently monitoring the mine there would have been a better chance of picking up serious problems and intervening before the explosion occured.

    That seems logical and indisputable. The trouble with “employee participation provisions [which] provide similar rights and functions for trained health and safety representatives” is that they can be over-ridden by greed, fear of losing your job, or even pride in your work, because it relies solely on workers who may have been offered a productivity bonus; who may fear if they don’t meet a target their jobs might be lost; or who are just keen to get on and do an excellent job.

    Ironic that Mr Feickert identifies a factor that is highly probable to have contributed to the disaster and then ascribes it to entirely the wroing administration. Perhaps he forgot who was Prime Minister in 2006?

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  28. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    Actually you possibly missed the real issue of this story I suspect and that is the journalist probably had no idea of Mr Feickert’s political affilations. If said journalist did then he / she probably had no idea that there was a conflict of interests and should reported. I suspect the former but the later is a possiblity.

    Of course it might be a vast conspiricy given print journalists are usually represent by the Printers and Manufactures union. When it comes conspiricy verses cock up I opt for cock up every time.

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  29. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    Sorry innocent bystander just spotted you had already made that point I did try to delete but DPF isn’t having a bar of that with his editing system

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  30. RRM (9,769 comments) says:

    Stay classy Labour.

    This leftie does not anticipate 2011 is going to be your year.

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  31. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    It may come as a shock to some of you, but being a socialist – even a loudmouthed pommy unionist socialist – doesn’t automatically render everything you say a pile of garbage.
    The stopped clock is right twice a day theory Rex?!

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  32. Nookin (3,258 comments) says:

    Jacko

    Is it your view that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure safety or is it the responsibility of the mining company?
    What was Pike River’s safety budget?
    By how much and in what specific regard was it deficient?
    Do you know the specific failure (if there was one) leading to the first explosion? If so, please set it out here and save the country millions?

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  33. davidp (3,572 comments) says:

    Kyle Chapman is a qualified social worker. If he came out and said that New Zealand definitely wouldn’t have a child abuse problem if we didn’t let so many black and Asian people in to the country, then Stuff would report his views as those of an expert in social work but without telling us that he is a neo-nazi.

    Then Danyl McL and Rex would say the whole neo-nazi thing was irrelevant. In Rex’s case because being a neo-nazi doesn’t automatically mean everything you say about immigrants is a “pile of garbage”. And Danyl because it is possible that being a neo-nazi was just some youthful indiscretion and there is no evidence that he still hates blacks, Asians, and Jews.

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  34. RightNow (6,966 comments) says:

    Nookin, that’s a lot of effort to expend responding to a troll. I don’t expect it to reply with anything requiring actual thought, unless it goes back to it’s master at the Stranded to ask what to say.

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  35. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Once again, DPF falls victim to the motive fallacy ie attacking the supposed motive or motives of the person making a reasoned argument rather than simply refuting the argument. It changes the subject and is thus a red herring.

    May I say that this is very, very common amongst posters on Kiwiblog. I won’t presume as to their motives for this.

    On appearances, as documented by DPF in his post, Mr Feirkert appears well qualified to comment on mining issues, but I question whether his attacks on Key are relevant to any safety issues. Also, Key, to all outward appearances, closely followed police and expert advice. Therefore, I think Feikert’s attack is wide of the mark, factually.

    By the way, in my house, although I was a young fella at the time, Arthur Scargill was a working man’s hero.

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  36. DT (104 comments) says:

    Well said Luc. Of course, all of those who point out that the journalist should have done some research and noted the gentleman’s affiliations are not wrong. However, noting a persons past associations shouldn’t on its own invalidate their professional opinions (there are too many examples at the other end of the political spectrum to list).

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  37. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Shit Luc, do you realize other posters have refuted your comment before you even made it?
    I particularly like this line from Rex: ” Take out the ridiculous political attack on John Key, with which Mr Feickert does his credibilty no favours, and you’re left with a simple fact, enunciated by Pete George above:”

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  38. JC (942 comments) says:

    For the moment I’ll give more weighting to this chap:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101121/ap_on_bi_ge/as_new_zealand_mine_explosion

    “The miners’ union said Sunday there had been no previous safety issues at the mine.

    “As far as I know, there had been pretty standard procedures in place and nothing … that would have pointed to a potential risk was raised by workers,” Andrew Little, spokesman for the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, told reporters.”

    Incidentally, at that 2006 review, Peter Withall gave evidence supporting the reintroduction of Govt employed mine specific inspectors.. this would have placed the onus of safety back closer to the Govt.. as well as the costs of employing the inspectors, and cut across the principles of the H&S Acts which is to push safety as close to the coal face (irony intended) as possible.

    JC

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  39. nasska (11,092 comments) says:

    DT @ 5.14pm

    Feirkert is well entitled to his opinions & for all we know his points may be valid BUT the minute he laid into the PM he forfeited the right to have his professional views as a mines inspector respected & he became just another rabid socialist pushing the Labour/Union barrow.

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  40. DT (104 comments) says:

    Agree partially with you nasska. Since we don’t know whether or not the decision was Key’s, and the way he made his point was overtly subjective, we should ignore Feikert’s swipe at Key. But the rest of what he said we should regard as his professional opinion.

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  41. Nookin (3,258 comments) says:

    DT
    Opinions need to be based on facts. What facts does he have to establish deficiencies in gas detection and that a 1990s regime would have detected them? He may be right. Based on what we have seen so, though, far his objectivity appears clouded.

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  42. DT (104 comments) says:

    I guess we will have to wait and see eh Nookin? I don’t know what information he has drawn on.

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  43. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    As regards the question of inspectors, in manufacturing we have a saying: you can’t inspect in quality.

    What inspectors really do is absolve others, especially managers, of responsibility. This is now considered, quite rightly, in my opinion, to be counterproductive.

    It’s over to the mine managers to assure the safety of their workers, and if they fail to do this, they should face the consequences.

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  44. Inventory2 (10,262 comments) says:

    This certainly fits in with Labour’s strategy to attack National and Key over Pike River, well before any official investigating body apportions blame. Mallard, Goff and Little have already had a go; now they’ve roped in their “expert” who just happens to be a Labour LEC chairman.

    They’ve forgotten how effective their mud-chucking was in 2008 …

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  45. MT_Tinman (3,092 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom (3,876) Says:
    January 21st, 2011 at 4:32 pm
    It may come as a shock to some of you, but being a socialist – even a loudmouthed pommy unionist socialist – doesn’t automatically render everything you say a pile of garbage.

    Actually Rex, yes, it does.

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  46. Pete George (23,422 comments) says:

    They’ve forgotten how effective their mud-chucking was in 2008 …

    And 2009. But they got a reminder about 2010 today from Roy.

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  47. jakejakejake (150 comments) says:

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  48. Komata (1,158 comments) says:

    Nookiin, I concur with your comments/questions and offer a few thoughts of my own which may also be relevant, as having read Mr. Feickert reported comments a couple of things occured to me.

    1. For anyone who is interested, it’s important to note that Mr F is a a ‘Mining Specialist’ – not a ‘Mining Inspector’ / ‘Inspector of Mines’. Insp’s of Mines were very different from a ‘Specialist’ and were invariably actually widely experienced ‘Master Miners’ frequently with international experience. In Mr. F’s case, without having details of his time served, locationss where he worked and qualifications-held, this term (‘Mining Specialist’) is totally meaningless , somewhat akin to saying a ‘boaty’ is a ‘Marine Specialist’ because he takes his ‘tinny’ onto the Manukau Harbour.

    2. IF Mr F. is a ‘Mining Specialist’ why is he now resident in Wanganui (a city which, to my knowledge has absolutely NO mines within its boundaries), rather than in Greymouth or ‘the coast’? How current is he in respect of his knowledge? Not having this information again renders his comments somewhat meaningless.

    Since he is now so willing to speak to the media. why did we not hear from this self-proc;aimed and evidently-expert individual at the time of the Pike River episode? Indeed, his silence (in retrospect) was extremely eloquent, and why, if he was so concerned, was he not down at the site offering his obviously top-notch services to the police?

    How many years (if any) has he spent in New Zealand, and, (crucially) has he EVER worked in New Zealand coal mines, which ones, and, if so, in what capacity?

    As noted, these are questions which came to mind, but we should not of course expect ANY answers to them from Mr F. – a he is merely playing the same old socialist tune and singing along to to their song sheet. It’s what he knows after all, and leopards, like watermelons, don’t change their ‘interior’ colours.

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  49. 3-coil (1,215 comments) says:

    Sorry Komata, but more lazy MSM uselessness – it was supposed to read: Dave Feickert is a “whining specialist”, not a mining specialist.

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  50. Michael (903 comments) says:

    This is a push by the miners union to instigate check inspectors in NZ mines by using the Pike River disaster to push the message that the National Government/Mining Companies are happy to play fast and loose with safety to increase profit and miners are being made to work in unsafe condidtions.

    Check inspectors are essentially union officials that can shut down mines they work in for safety reasons, real or imagined.

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  51. gravedodger (1,545 comments) says:

    I am bloody cetain that if I was going 2/3 Kms underground to make what they claim is “good money”, I would make absolutely certain that accepted safety protocols were in place at all times and what little I know of the qualities of Peter Whitall I am reasonably confident that reasonable structures were in place and standards were maintained. My pick is a “perfect Storm” scenario occurred and the rest they say is history.
    Murphy turned up and everything that could go wrong, did, and at the worst possible moment. As some say sh*t happens and when that occurs you are in a bloody big hole with no ladder.
    This entirely predictable socialist minion is never going to let the facts get in the way and a simpleton media hack will submit his simplistic rubbish as facts for publication and a totally ineffective editoring/ proof checking el cheapo news service will just publish without regard for the total inannity of the content.

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  52. DT (104 comments) says:

    I think that you guys are getting a bit out of line with your personal criticisms of this guy. Disagree, sure. But he is clearly an expert on mine safety, and has been interviewed by TVNZ on mine safety issues before the Pike River tragedy (ie, the Chilean Miners), so impugning his integrity as by implying that he isn’t an expert and is only speaking out to score cheap political shots is a low blow. I have no idea whether he is right or not, but I think those that choose to disagree with him should use reason rather than crazy conspiracy theories or personal attacks. Sickening.

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  53. Komata (1,158 comments) says:

    Michael

    What goes around. . .

    It’s interesting that before the RMA et al (as noted by Nookin) scrapped them, Mining Inspectors WERE government -appointed (and had been since the role was first created under the Gold Fields Act 1866 (from memory – and no, I’m not that old)) so that there was both ‘neutrality of opinion’ and the back-up of government authority to any decisions that the Inspector made.

    On the job, the ‘Inspectors were effectively ‘piggy in the middle’ being disliked by both mine management and the unions, but to give them their due their ‘neutrality’ kept mines safe and both unions AND management on their toes – especially as they had very powerful resouces at their back (the various Quarry, Mines and Coal \Mines Acts.) Having been ‘hands-on’ miners themselves the Inspectors sympathies DID tend to be with the men, but their neutrality was recognised by BOTH sides as being of immense importance as was their value to the industry.

    They should never have been replaced, but politics being what it is, it was ‘expedient’ to do so.

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  54. Jack5 (5,005 comments) says:

    Feickert may be a strong Labour supporter, but most miners support the Left. The Labour Party began among West Coast miners. Rubbish all Labour opinion on mining and you reject just about all views but those of a handful of academic geologists and the money men of NZ Oil & Gas, who ultimately controlled the Pike River company. That would be rightly unacceptable to reasonable NZers.

    I am definitely not a Labour supporter, but I think it’s stupid to reject an expert’s opinions because of his political views and activism.

    And what other country in the world puts mine safety under the police? That is a ridiculous arrangement.

    Regardless of whether they were Labour or National, the politicians in the late 1990s who presided over the carve up of the mining inspectorate were wrong, and the inquirieis may indicate their negligence contributed to the Pike River disaster.

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  55. Nookin (3,258 comments) says:

    To clarify what happened in 1991, various matters relating to mining were absorbed by 3 Acts — RMA, CMA and OSH.Tho passed in 91, they came into effect in 93. The office of inspector of mining was abolished but I expectthat mining inspectors were retained as specialist OSH inpectors by the Department of Labour. I do not know whether there was a radical reduction in the number of inspectors or in the number of inspections.
    My concern in this case is that someone who clearly has some specialist knowledge should make a statement politicising the tragedy, without substantiating it with facts and pre-empting the Royal Commission. The statement was clearly calculated to fuel anger and redirect it towards Feickerts political opponents. He has lost his credibility as far I am concerned. He may regain it but experts have to be very careful when making sweeping statements.

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  56. Dave Feickert (6 comments) says:

    Stay cool guys. I’m a Kiwi, have advised the US and EU on mine safety as well as China. I am a member of the Whanganui Labour Party, never been the Chairman, as everyone, including Chester Borrows, the Whanganui National MP well knows and he receives my views on Pike River as do the two main party leaders. The simple fact is that we inherited, along with the Aussies a safety supervision system developed after more than 100 years of bad mining experiences in the UK. We got rid of our mines inspectorate, but the UK, EU generally and Australia kept theirs’ and strengthened it. Both main parties were involved in the change to an OSH – Department of Labour based inspector system and not a single political party has supported calls for its reinstatement. So while the Aussies and the EU have strengthened their systems China is introducing it, to strengthen their’s. I feel sorry for the PM; for he has been placed in an impossible position by his predecessor PMs. Where, is the chief mines inspector? He should be running this rescue/recovery mission, not the PM, who has had to make decisions when the other parties cannot easily make them, as they do not have the background. Dave Feickert

    [DPF: Thanks for your contribution. The media reported you as the Whanganui Labour Party Chair when you announced you were standing against Michael Laws for Mayor - happy to accept they were wrong]

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  57. David Farrar (1,883 comments) says:

    I’ve not said Feckert’s views should be rejected. He obviously knows much about mine safety. But his comments went beyond what any other expert would say – he got very political. He may well be right that mining inspectors should never have been abolished. I think Peter Withall has said the same. But he went too far in claiming the tragedy would not have happened if inspectors were still present – that is conjecture, and he is in fact undermining the Royal Commission in its work by mouthing off like that..

    More to the point he got political in attacking John Key. Once he starts doing that, the public should know he is a senior labour party activist and life long trade unionist. That allows them to judge his comments in context.

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  58. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    At least Arthur Scargill benefitted out of all the Miners hard work and dangerous conditions of employment.

    A rather grand country pile, along with huge hectares of land. A reputed new Range Rover annually, and a huge salary as Top Dog in control of the NUM Miners funds in Pension Trust. Nepotism at large when family members were brought in to ‘assist’.

    Communists just can’t keep their sticky little mits off the the cash. Nice work if you can get it!

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  59. Rex Widerstrom (5,343 comments) says:

    Dave Feickert says:

    Stay cool guys. I’m a Kiwi

    Ah, well then I seek leave to amend my previous comment:

    It may come as a shock to some of you, but being a socialist – even a loudmouthed pommy unionist socialist – doesn’t automatically render everything you say a pile of garbage.

    :-D

    Good on you for proffering an informed opinion (which was the point I was making above, in case my tongue was wedged too far in my cheek) and for coming here to elaborate.

    Is it accurate to portray John Key as makibng decisions about mine safety, though? Surely as a non-expert he’s just rubber-stamping the advice of officials – the same officials, presumably, who (badly) advised Helen Clark on the same issue.

    And while you’re here, what are your views on police having the lead role in mining disaster response? Is there not – or should there not be – a better informed and equipped (in terms of experienced personnel) organisation? In the Australian floods the SES (State Emergency Service) is taking the lead… they’re more closely aligned to the fire service.

    (You stood against Micael Lhaws?! Well done, I owe you a beer).

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  60. davidp (3,572 comments) says:

    Guy Fawkes>At least Arthur Scargill benefitted out of all the Miners hard work and dangerous conditions of employment.

    Margaret Thatcher was one of the first world leaders to take steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions by closing dirty old coal mines. But lefties hate her with a vengeance for it while simultaneously venerating any Green or lefty politician who promotes the same policy. The only way I can reconcile the two positions is to assume that they’re in favour of politicians who talk about global warming but do absolutely nothing about it like Helen Clark, Julia Gillard, Barack Obama, or Al Gore with his personal carbon footprint about a hundred times the size of mine. But they’re opposed to any politician actually closing down sources or dirty energy and giving the workers the opportunity to find employment in the wonderful new Green energy sector.

    Either that or they’re just frothy mouthed haters, like the deranged anti-Palin or anti-Bush moonbats.

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  61. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    Does anyone know whether there’s any truth to the rumour that Helen Clark refused to allow Pike River to be an opencast mine?

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  62. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    John, that has been done to death. Seam is far, far too deep to be economic as open-cast.

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  63. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    And John, never forget, as I’m sure you won’t, that “truth” is just a billboard in composition.

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  64. Dave Feickert (6 comments) says:

    My comments to NZPA were pretty clear – it would be much better if the Pike River gas explosion and aftermath were being dealt with by a team of organisations, which would include the police, led by a chief mines inspector and his specialist inspectors. This would include the mines rescue service, the mine management, other emergency services and the Aussie experts who have come, as required. As in the Chile mine rescue, the world mining industry is much more responsive in coming to the aid of countries hit by mining disasters and offers of help poured into NZ. The problem has been that the police were left having to co-ordinate things instead of being a supporting organisation. They are not qualified to do this for coal mine disasters. In the end, their advisory group of experts reported to them, and hence to the ministers, ultimately the PM. In the circumstances, I think the PM has done the best he could have done.

    My other point is that gas explosions have got to be prevented – we know how to do this; for once they happen, very few people are ever rescued. In the last 10 gas explosions in the US, only one miner was rescued. He was a remarkable young man, who seemed to have amazing respiratory capacities – all his colleagues died from carbon monoxide posioning, probably within the first 24 hours, but he was found after 41 hours in a coma. Our two guys, who got out of PR, were very lucky, being nearer the exit and one had to save his mate, anyway.

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  65. Komata (1,158 comments) says:

    Dave

    Thank you for making an appearance – it is appreciated.

    Although you have been touted as a ‘mining specialist,’ by the media, typically, they have actually told us nothng about your ‘specialisation/s’ and the mining field is wide, as you know. Could you perhaps tell us what your ‘specialisations’ are. where you have worked and in what capacity? Underground? Open cast? Coal? Gold? Australia, UK? SA? USA? Canada?

    This is not I assure you a ‘political’ request, but motivatd by genuine interest. Thanks.

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  66. kunst5 (51 comments) says:

    Reading comments above I have to ask – is this entire Pike River sage politically driven – what a shame ! Considering the facts, in my opinion there is enough evidence that the government failed it’s duty.
    April 2010 West Virginia US coal mine disaster. Mr. Brownlee (Supervisory authority) why didn’t you temporarily stop and check Pike River ?
    Please, watch and listen to this video and link below:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36183425/ns/us_news-life/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/25/west-virginia-mine-investigation-methane_n_694787.html
    As many documents reveal “AU -Pike River” was financially and operational under a lot of stress minister Brownlee knew that, and as a consequence should have stepped in for the safety of the NZworkforce – he didn’t.
    As PM, I would not have a place in cabinet for a minister not performing to a high standard – I would sack Mr. Brownlee.

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  67. kunst5 (51 comments) says:

    In addition to my comment above.
    I think the New Zealand’s political environment is very traditional – too much concentrated on party politics/ theories.
    In stead of judging on blue/ red/ right and left/ communists/ capitalists etc. the public/ media should challenge the performance of individual parliamentarians, a modern approach – in order to get better results for our country.

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  68. Dave Feickert (6 comments) says:

    For Komata – I always call myself a coal mine safety adviser, which is predominantly what I do these days, but retrained as a safety engineer in the UK, after a first degree in NZ in Asian/Chinese studies in the 1960s. I never call myself an ‘expert’ – that is a press term. Then I did research on mining technology for three years, after which I went to work for the National Union of Mineworkers as a safety and technology adviser, working with the union’s 12 mining engineers – all mine managers and mining engineers, some from area director level in the National Coal Board. Have been underground many times, but have not worked ugd or managed a mine. Therefore I do not see myself as qualified to be a chief inspector, for example. After being made redundant as a result of the closure of UK mines, I worked in Brussels for 10 years, covering many areas, including health and safety at work. Since 2004, I have been working in China as well, and since 2007 it is my main country of work, advising the Chinese government and companies. In 2009 I became one of 11 New Zealanders awarded the Friendship Prize for Foreign Experts for my work on coal mine safety, something my farmer brother, Peter was awarded in 1998. I evaluated the US$2.3 m US-China mine safety programme and helped the EU develop its 9 m euro programme of co-operation on the safety and health of the high risk industries in China, due to start proper in 2012, after pilots, which I also helped to run. I am co-ordinating a photo study and research publication on pneumoconiosis in China, the US, the EU and South Africa, to be supported by the French Bank, Credit Agricole.

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  69. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Dave and Phil and Andrew and Trevor should quit with the slimy party politics, they wont get you any poll point gains.

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  70. Pete George (23,422 comments) says:

    Dave, thanks for your responses, having read them my impression has changed. The Stuff report said

    It was not right that Prime Minister John Key was making decisions about mine safety because he was not an expert in the area, Mr Feickert said.

    The implication of that to me, and I’m sure to others, was that it was a criticism of Key for making the decisions. It sounded like blaming the PM.

    Here (at 5.23 am) ) you say In the circumstances, I think the PM has done the best he could have done.

    Quite different. I don’t know if it is due to clarification of intent, the problems anyone can have being reported in the media, or what.

    Surely now, for Pike River, all the “what if” points are moot – the inspection and safety and recovery systems in place cannot be changed in retrospect, obviously. Many things may have prevented the tragedy but they didn’t, and since then the police and politicians seem to have been doing the best they could. What more can we ask? Sure, going forward we have to learn and try to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again, but that shouldn’t reflect on those involved with aftermath of PR.

    In your experience is it possible for a mine to explode even when all the best possible safety systems are in place, for example just through extraordinary unforeseeable circumstances? Or are all explosions in operating mines preventable?

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  71. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    And now we go to random concerned parent Stephanie Mills for comment…

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  72. kiwi in america (2,495 comments) says:

    David Feikert
    It is clear from your background that you have something valid to contribute to the debate about the Pike River Mine disaster. Criticisms of the police-led rescue model used in NZ has been made and debated quite well on this blog. The point David Farrar makes, and a point I 100% support him on, is that as soon as you criticised the Prime Minister you politicised the debate and thus your partisan leanings should’ve been disclosed at the time you gave the interview so that the NZ public could weigh some of the motivations as to why you might seek to try and pin blame on John Key.

    This is a game the mainstream media who tilt to the left in all major 1st world democracies play all the time. One of the common silly games here in the US is to ALWAYS reveal the political affiliation of any Republican politician (city, county, state or federal) who is caught breaking the law and to be very coy about Democrats who are busted (unless they are so high profile that such coyness is pointless – eg IL Democrat Governor Rob Blagoiovich busted for trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat the the highest bidder).

    So David Feikert please know that if you want to try to politically damage the Prime Minister of the party who is in perpetual political opposition to the party you are a member of that the David Farrars of this world will publicly ping you for your deliberately undisclosed political leanings.

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  73. Paulus (2,591 comments) says:

    Rex – your 11.03

    I think you may find that the Army took control of the Brisbane Flood situation, at the instructions of the Federal Government – backed up by the excellent SES and Army and Police staff.

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  74. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    Thank you malcolm. Seems I’m a bit slow to catch up with that one. I’d heard it, and just wanted to know the truth.

    Luc: you imply that I’m not concerned about telling the truth. That could not be further from the truth.

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  75. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    John, “truth” is always in the eye of the beholder. I was actually complimenting you, as I have before, on your creativity skills.

    It was you, on one of the current affairs shows, who alerted me to the power of billboards when you said that one good billboard can change nationwide perceptions. And you have been very successful at this, even if, in my view, your billboards do not always present truth.

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  76. Dave Feickert (6 comments) says:

    Re gas and coal dust explosions – which are different but a gas explosion can trigger a more powerful coal dust explosion – likely what happened at the West Side Huntly NZ mine and the Upper Big Branch US mine – we know enough now to prevent them. This is our best hope, as once explosions occur, few ever survive. In China an interesting analysis by a mining engineering prof shows that of the worst (100 plus fatalities) gas explosions, these occurred in lower gas mines rather than higher gas mines. In the higher gas mines they were more vigilant.

    Whether gas explosions can happen without warning – these are normally likely to follow gas outbursts, where gas builds up in a seam under pressure and physically bursts out, followed by a chemical explosion; but even here we know which seams are liable to gas outbursts and can take preventive action.

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  77. hubbers (231 comments) says:

    So is this

    A. Lazy journalism?

    B. Incompetent journalism?

    C. Or attack journalism?

    If it is C then who wrote it? How do we find out?

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  78. Dave Feickert (6 comments) says:

    To Kiwi in America, I have no desire to politically attack the PM and have been sending him and others briefings and suggestions – some of these are technical reports on gas explosions and methane control which laymen can follow. What I want is for the country’s politicians to find a non-partisan solution which strengthens the safety supervisory system in our country’s mines and make the men who will keep working in them safer too. Inward investing companies, btw, do not like to see tragedies of the kind we had a Pike River and begin to have doubts about our ability to run a sound mining industry. Similarly, I do not want to see an over-prescriptive legislative reaction to the disaster but do want to see all in the industry recruited to the safety and health tasks. Lastly, I support a ‘no blame’ approach to safety and health at work and do not wish to see the PR managers ‘hung out to dry’. I tell the Chinese the same – every manager that is sacked or worse is a loss of skills and learning in the situation where we have to solve the problems and move forward. There are signs that they will move away from this thousand year old plus administrative solution. It doesn’t work. If anyone can be shown to be negligent at PR, then that is for the police to deal with and is the main reason they are involved, as well as to help the Coroner.

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  79. Pete George (23,422 comments) says:

    This sounds quite different to the original NZPA article – maybe it’s far too sensible and undramatic.

    Media, and much of the public if blogs and talkback are anything to go by, with jumping to “mistake, sack them” conclusions – often before facts are known. Add to that opposing politicians – calls for resignations seem to be standard tactics. As Dave says here it’s often far better to retain expertise and learn from mistakes.

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  80. kunst5 (51 comments) says:

    When do we talk “ClearText” in this country and make parliamentarians (ministers) in charge (Supervisory authority) accountable their (under)performances ? (read my articles above)

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  81. merlinnz (53 comments) says:

    “you wonder about the motives of someone who states opinion as fact.”

    That applies to just about every journalist, blogger and blog poster in this country. That’s an opinion of course, and I dont profess it to be fact. It’s very common amongst those purporting to be in the business of elucidation when in fact they are posting opinion after opinion which, because they believe it, or agree with it, elevate it to fact status. And blogs, on all sides of the spectrum have their willing agreeing audience to back up their opinion as fact.

    Do you meet statements from the Employers and Manufacturers Assocaition, the Hotel Association, the Maxim Institute, the Business Round Table etc etc witht he same automatic suspicion, investigation and outing? I hope so.

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  82. merlinnz (53 comments) says:

    Having read the entire thread some people here need to “man” and “woman” up and apologise to David. That some chose to read into his reported comments, assuming he must be “dissing” the PM speaks volumes about your own defensiveness and inability to critically evaluate a story before leaping into opinion.

    David F made this comment

    “you wonder about the motives of someone who states opinion as fact”

    It turns out more here were guilty of the consequences of that than Mr. Feickert. As I read past his contributions I expected to see apologies. Some did but not many. Anyone who has been interviewed by media KNOWS the danger of quotes out of context. Mr Farrar more than most here I would think but it suited his political agenda to barge in and make assumptions, and how the fires burned.

    Mr Feickert, I have a question relating to your statement below

    “In the last 10 gas explosions in the US, only one miner was rescued. He was a remarkable young man, who seemed to have amazing respiratory capacities – all his colleagues died from carbon monoxide posioning, probably within the first 24 hours, but he was found after 41 hours in a coma. Our two guys, who got out of PR, were very lucky, being nearer the exit and one had to save his mate, anyway.”

    Is this true of most gas explosions, or just int he US?
    Would this information be readily known to those in NZ and those addressing Pike River explosion in the first 24-48 hours?
    If yes, it was highly unlikely those men would ever be recovered alive and this would have been known to those giving and receiving advice?

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  83. merlinnz (53 comments) says:

    Yet again we have proof that sometimes there is smoke without fire. Too often people leap into the gossip laden opinion fest with the proclamation “there’s no smoke without fire”. In my experience there is frequently smoke without fire when enough people repeat a mistruth or misunderstand it quickly gets elevated to fact and hey presto, smoke, but no fire

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  84. Dave Feickert (6 comments) says:

    To Merlinnz, the experience with mine gas explosions everywhere is very grim. In China, where there are a lot of gas explosions still – mainly in the small private mines, but also some large casualty ones in old, large provincial government-owned (SOE) mines. Few are rescued, apart from those near exits. A few badly burned miners have survived, but most who have suffered severe burning do not. We find it much easier to save miners trapped by roof falls and flooding. Gas explosions are a severe challenger for rescue teams, as there can always be a second plus explosion, as in PR. If the methane levels are not in or likely to be in the explosive range, then rescuers can put on bulky breathing apparatus and survive carbon monoxide rich atmospheres, but it often takes several hours to travel just a few hundred metres inside blasted mines; so fresh air bases need to be established for the teams to return to. Whether the leaders of the rescue recovery ALL knew this, I doubt, but with a chief inspector leading, everyone would have known the facts.

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