Pike commission in court on Monday
Mon, 03 Sep 2012 9:25a.m.
Former Pike River bosses are going to court on Monday to try to force the Pike River Royal Commission to resume to hear new evidence.
The commission has said it does not need to resume to hear in person from former mine technical staff member Udo Renk and middle managers Terry Moynihan and Greg Borichevsky.
The men had worked at the West Coast underground coal mine before it exploded in November, 2010, killing 29 of those working underground.
Stacey Shortall, the lawyer for former mine chief executive Peter Whittall and former company officers and directors, asked the commission to consider hearing from the men, after their evidence came to light after public hearings finished.
She is seeking a judicial review of the commission's decision.
She will also seek a review of the commission's rejection of her request to be able to see its findings before they are released, so she can seek suppression orders on adverse findings ahead of court appearances by Whittall.
Whittall is facing 12 health and safety charges laid by the then Department of Labour.
The commission was last week given a two-month extension to deliver its report because preparation for the judicial review application had diverted resources and delayed the drafting of its final report.
It will now report back by November 30, instead of September 28.
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3/09/2012 11:24:14 a.m.
If the Pike River Royal Commission is to resume to hear new evidence in favour of Pike River Management it should also require Nicholas Davidson QC to produce evidence he will have which shows both he and Pike River Management knew of a practicable and proven method to extinguish the fire, recover the bodies and recover the mine but failed to act on this information.
A copy of one of a number of relevant letters to Mr Davidson from Mark Cummins of the US company experienced in this method is reproduced below:
"This fire was especially depressing for us at CAFSCO Fire Control, USA. We felt a duty to help with such a tragic event, we offered free of charge to help them with a foam injection project but we could not get any response from the management. We have been involved with two previous coal mine fires where they chose to use the GAG jet engine to try to dilute the gases, to extinguish fires that had proceeded into the coal seams where the gas can't reach coal that is burning under a collapsed roof, and with ashes and subsidence conditions covering the burning coal. We were hoping they would accept our offer of showing them how to use their own manpower and equipment to create compressed fire fighting foam and how to use high pressure injection through the bore holes to fill the voids with wet soaking foam. The dense water based foam can seal the combustion area with a fire proof smothering foam mass. And at least cover the fallen miners bodies with the thermal protective blanket of foam to prolong the recovery time. They will now have serious environmental problems for many years. Sealing the mine is a bad choice. Now that it is no longer a recovery operation, We can offer to extinguish the fire with our own crews and equipment, but it will cost dearly after sealing it and it becomes a deep seated seam fire.
The compressed foam technology has been developed over a period of about twenty years in the USA. We have extinguished 8 mine fires using this technique. There is a complete government report published about our successful fire extinguishment of the Pinnacle mine fire, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/pubs/pdfs/tuone.pdf we were called after an attempt to use the GAG had failed to inert the Pinnacle mine (same conditions as the Pike River mine). After the water based foam has extinguished the fire, it simply soaks into the coal seam and evaporates away with no damage or even residue to clean up. In fact we can add bio-remediation microbes that are designed for emergency response organizations to use to clean up toxic by-products of coal combustion. The US Navy uses our foam system to apply the latest warfare decon agents, the Michigan Agriculture Division has purchased our foam generators to control the H5N1 Avian Virus. This foam has been proven for many years for many special applications. It should have been used on this fire. I hope this is useful information. Mark Cummins"
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