Pike's GAG inertisation defended

PROFESSOR David Cliff has defended the performance of the GAG Unit which operated at the Pike River mine in New Zealand for about 50 days after the tragedy there took the lives of 29 miners, claiming it was effective in containing the fire and inerting the mine in difficult conditions.
Pike's GAG inertisation defended Pike's GAG inertisation defended Pike's GAG inertisation defended Pike's GAG inertisation defended Pike's GAG inertisation defended

University of Queensland's Professor David Cliff

Lou Caruana

Cliff, who was recently appointed as director of Queensland University’s Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, said the rescue and recovery effort at Pike strained the limits of both men and machinery.

Cliff, who was asked to assist with the inertisation of the mine by the New Zealand government, also defended the role of the NZ police in the rescue operation and said the company should have been expected to provide more technical back up in the rescue effort.

“The New Zealand police are mandated to coordinate the rescue effort,” he told ILN at a Brisbane conference on mine rescue and emergency management.

“They are responsible for coordinating all the agencies. The only area they were deficient in was technical knowledge. This was an area that the company could have been more active in.”

Cliff said the GAG unit was not deployed until it was deemed there were no survivors after the incident, which further delayed its effectiveness.

The GAG unit was successful in taming the fire that had reached more than 30 metres in the mine and had finally inerted the mine despite leaks.

Queensland Mines Rescue will be taking delivery of another jet engine from a Russian jet for a new GAG after the marathon rescue effort at Pike River exhausted its original engine, QMR general manager Wayne Hartley said.

The new engine will complement another engine owned by QMR, making it one of only three places in the world that has the technology.

In his key note address to the conference, Hartley said rescue and recovery attempts at Pike were slowed down by the sophistication and layers of bureaucracy needed to coordinate the different agencies involved.

The incident management team, which would normally number four individuals, was made up of 25 members for the Pike River rescue, he said.