VLI fined over mining disaster
Posted Wed, 01 Aug 2012
A drilling company in Australia has pleaded guilty to three charges in relation to the pit disaster that killed 29 miners in New Zealand in 2010.
VLI Drilling, a contractor that employed three of the victims, now faces a fine of up to 750,000 New Zealand dollars (£386,000) after confessing to three health and safety violations and not keeping its staff at the Pike River coal mine safe.
The principal mine operator, Pike River Coal Ltd, employed the other 26 victims and it still faces several criminal charges. But one of the fathers of the men, Bernie Monk, has said he is dismayed that VLI do not have to face further punishment.
"For me it's only a slap on the wrist," said Mr Monk, the spokesman for all of the victims' families.
"It's very hard to defend."
Methane-fuelled explosions caused the men's deaths and, although the Labour Department insists it doesn't know if VLI's drill rig was running when the first explosion hit, VLI's methane detector on the rig was faulty. It had not been inspected as it should have been and it really needed to be replaced.
Copyright Press Association 2012