Pike River re-entry delayed
Plans to begin the re-entry of the mine on Friday have been delayed due to safety concerns about conditions inside the drift.
Pike River Recovery Minister Andrew Little announced the operations suspension saying that on Wednesday “unexpected and unexplained readings were reported by the atmospheric monitoring systems in the Pike River mine".
“Safety has always been our first priority, and will continue to be. In these circumstances the appropriate precaution is to temporarily suspend operations.”
Unpredicted and unexplained elevated levels of oxygen were reported from a borehole at the rockfall area, 2,300m down the mine’s drift, the NZ Herald reported.
The elevated oxygen levels could be due to inaccurate monitoring equipment, or oxygen coming through the strata. Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson told Stuff that “the risk is of another spontaneous combustion event if we ignored the readings”.
He maintained the re-entry would still go ahead once the safety concerns were addressed. Pattinson wouldn't yet put a date on when they will resume re-entry work, saying to do so would only add extra pressure and increase safety risks. The agency hoped to have a better idea next week about when the re-entry would resume.
On Friday, families attended a planned memorial ceremony, that was meant to mark the beginning of re-entry, went ahead at the foot of the mine.