29 Sep 2014

Official not surprised by Pike stance

7:47 pm on 29 September 2014

Nobody should be surprised at Solid Energy's reluctance to re-enter the mine to recover the bodies of the 29 men who died there, a Pike River Royal Commissioner says.

State-owned coal miner Solid Energy last week said its legal advice was there needed to be a second mine exit for a recovery to be done safely. A lack of one at Pike meant a re-entry attempt was now unlikely.

Royal Commissioner and former head of Queensland mine safety Stewart Bell, who is in the country promoting mine safety, said body recovery efforts at underground coal mines were rare.

Included in his talks are screenings of A Failure to Learn, a DVD which spells out the lessons from Pike River and other, similar, tragedies.

"We've had four mine explosions in Queensland since the 1970s that killed people," he said.

"Three of them we never got the people out. They're still there.

"If there's a mine where there's been a second explosion that involves the whole mine, we haven't been able to get anybody out."

Mr Bell also said he could not understand why nobody had been prosecuted over the Pike River disaster.

The Pike River coal mine in November 2010.

The Pike River coal mine in November 2010. Photo: REUTERS

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