Mine emergency protocols strengthened

Last updated 14:17 13/12/2013

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Incident controllers in charge of emergency responses at mines will have to have mining experience under new protocols, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

Bridges and Police Minister Anne Tolley today announced the approval of the Underground Mines Emergency Protocol. The protocol was developed in response to a recommendation by the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy.

"The incident controller will be supported by an incident management team made up of the Mines Rescue Service, WorkSafe NZ, the police and the mine operator," Bridges said.

"Together they will be responsible for co-ordinating the emergency effort and approving key decisions."

Tolley said the protocol also provided for an emergency co-ordination centre led by the police.

"The centre will co-ordinate and support aspects of any rescue effort, focusing on facilities management, event administration, and communication with families, media and [the] Government."

The royal commission had recommended that the implementation of the co-ordinated incident management system in underground coalmine emergencies be reviewed urgently.

The announcement came just a day after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment dropped all 12 health and safety charges against Pike River Coal's former chief executive, Peter Whittall. The ministry said it had a poor chance of successfully prosecuting him.

At the same hearing in the Christchurch District Court, it was announced a $3.41 million payment would be made to the families of the 29 men who died in the 2010 blast, and the two survivors.

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- Fairfax Media

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