Soper on Pike River


But the volatility of that mine, and what occurred at the time, understandably tends to be forgotten. The first methane gas explosion occurred on November the 19th, there was a second explosion five days later, another one two days after that and the final one two days later.

And when that second explosion occurred, they were set to go in. Many more lives could have been lost.

The latest footage to emerge from deep within the mine shows a wooden crate and hoses and a pair of spectacles which obviously shows that that part of the mine wasn’t engulfed in flames. That’s all it shows.

No one actually knows what went on in that mine and what sort of conflagration took place.

One thing was clear though, it was unsafe then and the debate has raged ever since whether it’s still unsafe. For anyone to go in under new health and safety laws that virtually require a risk analysis for sharpening a pencil, someone has to take responsibility.

Little and Peters aren’t willing to take the responsibility. They want to force others to take it.

No Government in its right mind would deliberately prevent the bodies from being recovered if they thought there wasn’t a risk.

This is the key. No one in Government benefits from not having the mine entered. Peters and Little know this. They know it is risky.

Labour’s Andrew Little says the new footage provides a compelling reason for the mine to be re-entered. Little’s committed to a safe re-entry, with the operative word being safe which would in reality, put a Government led by him in the same place as the current Beehive incumbents.

Weasel words. If it was safe, it would have happened years ago.

Unmanned re-entry into the mine is planned at the moment. The families want their advisors involved in the process and want to see the footage sent back by the drones and robots.

That seems more reasonable than drawing conclusions from the latest six year old footage.


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