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Pike River families invited to go underground to 170m barrier

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Pike River Recovery Agency has invited families of the Pike 29 to go underground to the 170m barrier - set for Thursday 3 October (weather permitting).

Barring weather conditions that prevent anyone going underground (i.e. lightning strikes), the Agency will transport family members (aged 15 and over), in a driftrunner up to the 170m barrier in groups with an experienced Agency guide, starting at 9am.

No media will be allowed underground, but will be able to film/photograph from the 5m barrier. There may be a chance to film families being inducted for the underground visits; at the portal pre-underground safety checks where people have to turn out their pockets, check for contraband etc; and there will be an opportunity to interview families after their underground visit.

The Agency will set up a stand-up during the site visit with either/or the Agency Chief Executive Dave Gawn and Chief Operating Officer Dinghy Pattinson.

Some family members will prefer not to be filmed, photographed or interviewed. We will ensure media are aware of these preferences, and we will expect your co-operation.

We are expecting each visit to the 170m barrier to take around 20 minutes.

Media will be asked to meet at the mine gates at 8am with high vis jackets or vests, steel capped footwear, and helmets. We expect the media site visit to be completed around 12noon.

Please RSVP by email, as we need to organise transport from the mine gates to the portal and ensure you have been inducted. Contact Principal External Relations Advisor - Communication Lee Harris to register, lee.harris@pikeriverrecovery.govt.nz.

The Agency will run an induction on Wednesday 2 October at the office in Greymouth from 2 - 3.30pm. Any media visiting the site must have completed an induction - if you’ve attended one with the Agency previously we will have a record of that and it will still be valid.

The Agency will provide photographs and a media release following the event.

Please note that safety is at all times paramount. Because we are at the mercy of weather, there are no absolute guarantees around access on any particular day or time. Please ensure you build flexibility into your travel arrangements.

The Agency will be undertaking a full risk assessment for this site visit later this week. We require all registrations by 2pm on Wednesday 25 September, as numbers attending, transportation and media access will be considerations for this risk assessment.

Background:

All dewatering infrastructure has been removed from the area between the old 30m wall and the 170m barrier (two concrete weirs; large gabion baskets; "grizzly" barriers and concrete blocks set up to prevent large material washing down the mine and building up against the 30m seal).

The roof in this area has been checked and any rebolting carried out.

The Agency has been completing its WorkSafe documentation around proceeding past the 170m barrier to recover the Pike River Mine drift access tunnel. We are unable to discuss timeframes around this process with WorkSafe.

Some family members have taken up previous opportunities to go to the 30m seal, prior to 21 May 2019 when that seal was breached.

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