30 Nov 2016

Pike River meeting: 'It's never their problem'

9:16 pm on 30 November 2016

The wife of one of the men who died in the Pike River Mine explosions says Solid Energy is trying to pass the buck, after a meeting with the company today.

Protesters, including Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse, are sitting in at the mine.

Protesters, including Anna Osborne, centre, protesting near the mine (file). Photo: Supplied

Solid Energy chief executive Tony King met with several family members of the 29 men who died in the mine in 2010.

But Anna Osborne, the widow of Milton Osborne, said the meeting was a total waste of time.

She said Mr King said it was not in his power to stop the mine being sealed, and that he was under pressure from WorkSafe to get the seal finished.

"It's been like this for six years now, it's always someone else's problem, it's never their problem. And we can mention something to them and come up with a name and say 'that's not my responsibility, that's so-and-so's responsibility'. So we're hearing the same rhetoric over and over again, and they're just trying to fob us off and pass the buck."

Mrs Osborne said this was not the end for the families, and they would continue to protest the sealing of the mine.

Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died, said the meeting was an insult today, because Solid Energy was refusing to meet with any of the experts who said safe re-entry was possible.

He said family members would keep protesting at the gate to the mine, and the gates of Parliament, until they got justice for their men.

"I think it's gutless what Solid Energy are doing, and I think it's unheard of anywhere else in the world, to actually send men underground and leave them there. And I find that so frustrating that they are doing that."

He said Prime Minister John Key promised to get the men out, and he should front up, rather than sending his underlings to deliver the hard word.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor said Solid Energy was showing no moral spine, and should not have the legal right to block re-entry to the Pike River mine.

Mr O'Connor said re-entry into the drift was possible and feasible, and former chief mines inspector Tony Forster said the risks were manageable.

Mr O'Connor said the government should take responsibility for the company to ensure every possible step was taken to retrieve the bodies, as it did in the Erebus disaster.

Solid Energy said it had no comment.

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