Anger follows drilling company sentence
Fri, 26 Oct 2012 6:03p.m.
By Jeff Hampton
There was an angry outburst in the Greymouth Courthouse today after the sentencing of a drilling company which admitted safety breaches at Pike River mine.
Parents of four of the 29 victims abused executives from the drilling company, which had three employees down the mine when it blew up.
Minutes after a confrontation with drilling company executives in the court public gallery, Pike River parents showed the legal fallout from the mine tragedy is putting them under strain.
Ben Rockhouse died in the mine. He worked for VLI Drilling and his father Neville was in court.
“Three good boys died," Mr Rockhouse says. "What's a life worth, $90,000, $900,000? What's a life worth?”
Dean Dunbar's son Joseph was a trainee driller who'd just turned 17 when he died in the mine.
“That company didn't even recognise him as an employee or a contractor, and if you look at what the Department of Labour called Joseph, he's the other person,” says Mr Dunbar.
“They've stood behind the system where's there's been no answers, because they've never got down the mine,” says families’ spokesman Bernie Monk.
Judge Jane Farish had just convicted and fined the drilling company almost $47,000 for three breaches of health and safety law.
The company admitted not doing regular electrics and gas sensor checks on its drilling rig. There's no suggestion the breaches led to the explosion.
Its Australian-based executives arrived at court hoping the firm would be discharged without conviction. But more than three hours later, they left via a back door on the advice of court staff, keen to avoid further confrontation with angry families.
In court the prosecutor described the lack of maintenance checks on its drilling rig as "woefully inadequate and a substantial hazard".
The company's lawyer told the court mine operator Pike River should have been doing the checks.
VLI Drilling had an unblemished safety record, had made changes since the charges, and paid reparations to family members.
The families have more cases to sit through in the next few months, including a major one against Pike River Coal.
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27/10/2012 8:04:48 p.m.
The National Government’s failures is also liable for the death of the 29 miners along with the drilling company for not making sure that everyone’s safety are all up to a safe and a standard procedures. Key is a bloody joke to think that he could get away with his part of the act of unlawful, just like the teapot tape and the Spy Industries over Dotcom and Copyrights to selling shares, but to pick on the redundancy act for all other Coal Miners in this country’ is to hide his guilt. Its a NO'NO' way in hell the people of this country will let Key and failures of a Leadership to wonder off without charge. Get Real.
26/10/2012 8:20:13 p.m.
Paul B wrote:
The emotional reaction over the sentencing suggests this whole issue is escalating toward the "looking for scape goats" mode.
The aggrieved family members are over reacting.
The guilty pleas by the drilling company were to offenses unrelated to the mine explosion.
26/10/2012 7:12:33 p.m.
Bill Richards wrote:
Where were the Mine Inspectors and what were they doing, shouldn't they have picked this up, whilst they were inspecting the mine?
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