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Pike River families 'not messing around'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/02/2017

Pike River families believe they could know as soon as July whether a manned re-entry will be allowed into the drift.

Experts working with the families of some of the 29 men killed in the 2010 west coast mine disaster have put together a timeline for the government, setting out a 10-step process for re-entry.

Bernie Monk, whose son Michael was killed, says the families aren't planning on messing around.

"Bill English has made us this offer and we're going to make sure it's done quickly and properly," he said.

The Prime Minister halted sealing of the drift pending an un-manned investigation of the mine after meeting with families earlier this month.

"The timeline shows some fresh inspections could happen pretty much straight away, like getting a high resolution camera down borehole 47 to properly identify remains," Mr Monk said.

UN coal mine methane expert David Creedy, former UK mines inspector Bob Stevenson and leading UK mine rescue expert Brian Robinson have put together a two-page proposal for the government on how the re-entry process could be achieved.

As well as for high-resolution photography, they hope to use the unsealed boreholes to launch flexible robotic devices into the drift.

A new risk assessment would need to be completed, as well as systematic drilling, image and data capture, and analysis of the findings.

Further recommendations about manned-entry could be made by late July at the earliest, the experts hope.

The document also sets out a series of goals including determining body locations and recording damage to the mine fabric, infrastructure and equipment in respect of the blast, heat and ground movement.

The families have also made an Official Information Act request seeking footage from police and images from within the mine.

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