Appin rescue veteran to assist at Pike

MINE rescue veteran of the 1979 Appin mine disaster Seamus Devlin will play a key role in planning the rescue of the 29 trapped miners at Pike River’s Greymouth operation.
Appin rescue veteran to assist at Pike Appin rescue veteran to assist at Pike Appin rescue veteran to assist at Pike Appin rescue veteran to assist at Pike Appin rescue veteran to assist at Pike

NSW Mine Rescue's Seamus Devlin.

Lou Caruana

Devlin, who is the New South Wales Mines Rescue state manager, is being accompanied by manager of Hunter Valley Mines Rescue Station David Connell at the mine and will assist the New Zealand rescue service with incident planning.

Devlin and Connell also have had experience at Beaconsfield (2006) and Gretley (1996) and are working closely with New Zealand mines rescue service workers who are reportedly grateful to receive rescue personnel of their experience.

“The New Zealand mines rescue service has sufficient number for an immediate response,” NSW Mines Rescue general manager Paul Healey said.

“If it is a prolonged rescue our team members will play more of a part.”

The Appin explosion, which tragically killed 14 miners, was started by a rush of methane gas around 11pm in K panel, a remote mine tunnel about 3km underground.

Ten miners died in the crib room while having a food break and another four were found some distance away. The recovery, which involved 100 volunteers, lasted for more than 26 hours.

NSW Mines Rescue has also dispatched one ventilation and one gas expert to Greymouth, and has a back-up crew of six brigadesmen stationed at Christchurch.

Robert Strang from Coal Mines Technical Services (another division of the Coal Services Australia group) will provide expert assistance on gas equipment operation, maintenance and interpretation of results.

A member of the team includes Peter Cornford, who has Ventilation Engineering qualifications in the event their services are required to assist in this area.

“Team protocols insist that all data related to risks must be understood and within acceptable range before proceeding,” Healey said.

“This is sometimes a slow and frustrating process, but experience has shown that it is necessary. Rescue teams are equipped and ready to start as soon as a green light for acceptable risks is given by the incident controller.”

Healey told ILN that the payout of the mine included regularly spaced pods where compressed air was available.

He was unsure whether there is a safety chamber at the mine.

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