There appears to be no end in sight to the ongoing dispute between the Pike River families over the future direction of mine recovery.
A public statement last week, released by the Pike River Family Reference Group, said the families reluctantly accepted a government decision to shut down the recovery project.
A number of families said they were blinded by this.
The Pike River family committee, which is separate from the comparison group, met last night and said three-quarters of the families wanted to self-fund a feasibility study on the recovery of the mine’s main fan.
But the level of support for the study is also disputed.
Last week’s statement from the Pike River Family Reference Group – which is the official group working with the government mine recovery agency – sparked an uproar among some relatives of the 29 dead miners.
The reference group represents 27 of the families.
He said the families had accepted advice from Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little that there would be no more money to expand the project.
Bernie Monk lost his son in the disaster. He is not part of the reference group and rejected the Minister’s request.
He said Checkpoint that 23 of the 29 families support a feasibility study to go further inside the mine, while two want the mine to be closed.
“We started last night. As soon as I finished the meeting and Carol Rose (who lost her son in Pike River) and one of our experts who is Richard Healey (an electrical engineer) and our family, we headed home. call UK and Tony Foster answered who was at the meeting last night – one of our experts – he got in touch with our man (another expert).
“He had already been in contact with him before I called him. That’s how quickly we got started on that.”
The study will be carried out free of charge by independent mining experts and will examine the costs of recovering the mine’s main fan, identify risk factors and present them to the government.
Some families believe that the ventilator may contain vital clues as to the cause of the disaster.
Monk said last week’s statement from the benchmark group should not have been released.
“So they made decisions on behalf of the families because they thought they had the full mandate to make those decisions without going to them and asking them to vote and they made those decisions without a vote.”
Anna Osborne of the Families Group was upholding last week’s statement.
“I have no regrets at all for putting it out in the media because it was actually revealing our truth to say that we understand it’s too difficult. It will cost too much money to go any further.
“It’s not as simple as what some family members think or want other family members to believe.”
According to her, the lack of support was due to not everyone responding to emails or attending meetings.
Osborne, whose husband died in the blast, listened to last night’s meeting and took issue with the committee’s claim that 23 families supported plans for a feasibility study.
“I don’t understand how they say they have the support of 23 families when I only know about 13 families showed up for the meeting.”
Monk said Osborne was incorrect.
Meanwhile, the minister said getting past the drop from the mine roof was a huge undertaking and there were other ways to look at the mine’s work.
“The police agreed to drill six more holes and send in scanners to try and retrieve exactly the evidence that some families believe could be obtained by physically going there,” Little said.
The families of Pike River are hopeful that their own feasibility study will be completed in the coming weeks.