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Pike River families head to court

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/11/2016 Sean Martin

<span style="font-size:13px;">A lawyer for families of victims of the Pike River disaster says they're taking their protest to stop the mine being sealed to court.</span> © Getty Images A lawyer for families of victims of the Pike River disaster says they're taking their protest to stop the mine being sealed to court. Families of the victims of the Pike River disaster are taking their protest against the sealing of the mine to court, their lawyer says.

The families of the 29 men killed in the 2010 disaster say they want their bodies recovered, but owner Solid Energy says the site is full of methane and too dangerous to re-enter.

A lawyer for the families, Nigel Hampton, QC, said he was preparing an appeal against WorkSafe notices imposed on Solid Energy calling for the mine to be permanently sealed.

"The general grounds of appeal are that the decision made was unreasonable," he said, declining to provide further detail.

The appeal would likely be lodged later in the day, he said.

The decision comes after the mining company and the families met on Wednesday, following 16 days of protest by relatives who have been occupying the main access road to the mine.

"It was hoped that this meeting was being called to offer some kind of compromise ... but Solid Energy didn't come with that in mind at all and there was nothing on the table for the families, from their perspective," Mr Hampton said.

"So as a consequence, they are left with very few options."

The families have promised to continue protesting on Thursday.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton was killed in the disaster, this week said she had personally had offers from mines rescue experts to crew a re-entry of the mine.

"We're simply not going to walk away and let our loved ones and the knowledge of what happened to them be permanently sealed away," she said.

But Solid Energy maintains it's unsafe to enter the mine and said last week the withdrawal of cement supplier Allied Concrete wouldn't stop the mine being sealed by early 2017.

"The reality is that for the entire time since Solid Energy took over Pike River Mine in 2012, the drift has been full of nearly pure methane," the company said.

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