The meeting was to update the families on the process going forward following the Government’s announcement last week of a re-entry to the Pike River Mine drift.

“The Family Reference Group are happy to be meeting with Police, the Chief Coroner Judge Marshall and the Agency to be clear about the forensic processes as part of the commitment to transparency,” Anna Osborne of the Family Reference Group said.

The meeting was facilitated by the Pike River Recovery Agency.

“The meeting was an opportunity for the Family Reference Group to meet with Police and the Chief Coroner, so that we can all agree a common understanding of the forensics part of the re-entry plan. At the meeting we discussed how police will conduct the investigation, handle evidence and keep the families informed,” Agency chief executive Dave Gawn said. 

“While Police are continuing to make a risk assessment of the re-entry plan, we are also making preliminary plans to upskill staff to better understand an underground mine environment. Police will be taking part in a joint training exercise in early December,” Assistant Commissioner: Response and Operations Tusha Penny said. 

As previously advised no decision has been made on whether Police staff will enter the Pike River mine drift, or if others with the necessary expertise and experience in mine environments will assist.  

“Police absolutely acknowledge the work that has been done by the agency and their commitment to workplace safety.  However under health and safety legislation and as an employer Police still need to undertake our own risk assessment,” Assistant Commissioner Penny said.

At the meeting the Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall expressed her condolences to the families and explained how the coronial process will work.

“The Coroner and the Police will work together closely if any remains are recovered,” Judge Marshall said.

“The Police gather the information on the identification and it is my role as the coroner to determine that I am satisfied that the identification is accurate. While an inquest into the deaths of the 29 men was held in 2011, no decisions have yet been made as to whether the coronial inquiry needs to re-opened,” she said.

 

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