5 May 2019

Pike River: Families accept conveyer belt finding, Anna Osborne says

7:44 am on 5 May 2019

The families of the victims of the Pike River Mine disaster accept that there is no evidence that the conveyor belt triggered a part in the second explosion in the mine.

No caption

Anna Osborne says some family members will be disappointed with the latest finding, but it's time to accept it and move on so that other causes of the explosions can be identified. Photo: Supplied

A police investigation was opened last August after claims the second blast, five days after the original, was caused by the belt being started.

A police report, released yesterday, found nothing to back that up.

"Police have found no evidence to suggest that the conveyor belt was operated or started at any time after the first explosion on 19 November 2010, and no evidence of any causative link to the three subsequent explosions that occurred between 24 and 28 November 2010," Detective Superintendent Peter Read said.

Twenty-nine men died in the 2010 explosions.

Anna Osborne, who lost her husband Milton, said this investigation ruled out one theory and some families will be disappointed with the result.

"I'm sure with how things were handled in the past there will be a few disappointed family members," Ms Osborne said, on behalf of the Pike River Family Reference Group.

"No one could have manually turned on the conveyor belt because there are security codes that people have to use to switch it on, so there is no evidence at all to suggest that the conveyor belt caused the second explosion."

But she said if there wasn't a first explosion, there wouldn't have been a second one to investigate - and the families still don't know the cause of the blast that took the lives of 29 men.

"We've got about five options [for what] caused the original explosion. We're not experts in this and we have to trust the process going forward, and that the police are going to get this right," she said.

"We haven't had a very good relationship with police in the past, with the way they have handled things, but we have to move forward, build this relationship with police, and trust in them - and that goes both ways."

Ms Osborne said the majority of the families are satisfied this theory about the second blast can now be eliminated, and the inquiry can move forward.

"We need to draw a line in the sand now and say 'let's get on with this and do the best job we can'. The families deserve closure and the best investigation, and I believe the police are going to do right by the families."

Outside the 30m concrete seal at Pike River mine.

A crewman outside the 30 metre concrete seal at Pike River mine, where a re-entry attempt last week did not go ahead at the last minute. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

She's hopeful the planned re-entry, which was delayed on Thursday [ https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/388341/tears-shed-at-news-pike-river-re-entry-would-be-delayed], is only a minor setback and the re-entry can go ahead in the next few weeks.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs