Workers withdrawn from Pike River after carcinogens found

The Pike River coal mine. Photo: ODT files
The Pike River coal mine. Photo: ODT files
Underground workers have been withdrawn from the Pike River Mine after samples showed the presence of carcinogens.

Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson said the team working underground recently encountered an unusual substance on the walls and roof of the tunnel and took samples.

“As soon as we received notification back from our independent testing facility, we stopped work underground and withdrew the mine workers.

"We are now working with mining experts and WorkSafe to understand what the results of the testing mean for our operations.”

All items recovered from the Pike River Mine drift are handed to the police forensics team on site.

Police have been notified and immediately ceased their work on site handling potential exhibits.

“The reason we do all the tests we do and plan for every eventuality is so that we can take action when something like this occurs. The health of all workers on site is always our top priority,” Mr Pattinson said.

The agency will now undertake a risk assessment to look at the potential effects on operations and ways to mitigate it.

“We don’t know yet how long it will take to ensure the environment underground is suitable for our workers — it will take as long as it needs to take,” he said.


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