Angry Pike River families slam report

Upset families of the 29 men killed at Pike River "cannot accept" findings of a report that absolves government employees of any blame for the 2010 tragedy.

Despite "systemic failures" and "inactions" that contributed to the Pike River Mine disaster, no one at the old Department of Labour or Ministry of Economic Development will be held accountable, families of the workers were told last night.

The report was highly critical of both departments and prompted an apology to the families - but their spokesman, Bernie Monk, called it hollow and said there should be accountability.

"There are some really upset families here, they are pretty angry about it. We lost 29 men and no one's going to be held accountable."

Mr Monk said it was refreshing to hear the departments admit fault, but it was not enough. "I just can't accept it, I'm sorry. I'd love to move on but I know my son would love us to go and get him and that's what we want to do."

The families were also shown footage from a camera put down the mine last Friday, and told a report would be presented to the mine's owners, Solid Energy, by the end of next month addressing how the bodies might be recovered.

Officials from the former government departments, now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, met the families in Greymouth to discuss the report.

It said that despite a "light-handed and perfunctory" approach to health and safety regulation at the mine, an employment investigation was not warranted.

Ministry chief executive David Smol said the breadth of failures outlined in the report was "sobering," and apologised to families of the dead men.

"I accept the findings and apologise again to the Pike River families for these failures," he said. "We must ensure we have learned" from the tragedy.

The findings

An independent report was ordered to see if any staff of the old Department of Labour and Ministry of Economic Development were to blame for the 2010 mining disaster that killed 29 men.

It found that despite systemic failures from both agencies - which were responsible for granting Pike River's mining permits and regulating its health and safety - no individual employees were at fault.


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