Allied Concrete pulls out of Pike River seal contract to avoid trauma for victims' families video

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Pike River family members Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse staging a sit-in at the Pike River mine access road.

A concrete company has pulled out of a contract to supply concrete to seal Pike River Mine.

Allied Concrete confirmed it would not work at Pike River because it did not want to inflame the "emotional trauma" being caused to families of the 2010 West Coast mining disaster victims.

A group of family members and supporters began protesting at the mine's access road on November 12. 

Pike River families protest at the mine gates.
JOANNE CARROLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Pike River families protest at the mine gates.

They want the Government and Solid Energy to agree to enter the drift – a 2.5km tunnel leading to the mine – and search for the remains.

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Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton was killed in the mine, said she had appealed to Allied Concrete not to deliver the concrete needed to seal the mine. 

Family members of men killed Pike River mine disaster protest sealing of mine

Family members of men killed Pike River mine disaster protest sealing of mine

"I pleaded with them not to seal the drift because my husband is still in the mine. I asked them not to supply concrete to Solid Energy but they never got back to me so I named them on Facebook and a lot of people emailed them since then," she said. 

Brent Esler, chief executive of Allied's owner HW Richardson, said he did not know the value of the contract, but the board did not take that into consideration when making its decision.

"We have sympathy for Solid Energy's plight. They weren't the operator of the mine and they have the unpleasant job of bringing it to a conclusion.

The portal to the Pike River Mine.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

The portal to the Pike River Mine.

"However, we are very very sympathetic to the emotional trauma of the families. We certainly don't want to contribute to inflaming the situation. I'm hopeful a solution can be found. It's been six years now and some kind of closure needs to happen for every body. I hope they can take the time to work together to find a resolution for all."

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Osborne said the decision was "fantastic".

"It's a huge win for the families and I applaud Allied Concrete for doing the right thing and supporting the families," she said. 

Solid Energy has been decommissioning the site to allow the area to be returned to the Department of Conservation for inclusion in the Paparoa National Park.

They are sealing the mine with a 20-metre thick concrete wall. 

Environment Minister Nick Smith met families and told them a safe re-entry was not possible because of the risk of more explosions and rockfall. 

Smith said the permanent seal did not have to be complete until February but a smaller seal would need to be finished by November. 

Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben was killed in the mine, said she was relieved with Allied's decision. 

"Allied has shown real moral strength in stopping this work and is a great example of a good family business," she said. 

"We have international and local experts who say the drift is safe to enter. There may be the bodies of our boys in there as well as evidence that shines a light on what happened that terrible day.

"All we want is the chance to go in and check before our boys and any evidence is sealed away forever."

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 - Stuff

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