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'No flooding assessment at death pit'.

Byline: Martin Shipton Chief Reporter

AN OFFICIAL investigation into the Gleision mine disaster, in which four miners died, has concluded there was no evidence to show that an assessment had been carried out by the mine's owner into the potential danger of flooding.

Phillip Hill, 44, David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, and Garry Jenkins, 39, drowned in September 2011 when there was a huge inrush of water to the part of the mine in the Swansea Valley where they were working.

Mine manager Malcolm Fyfield was injured, but managed to escape through old workings and emerged on the surface about an hour later. David Wyatt, who had been working near the miners who died, and another underground worker, Nigel Evans, who was further away, just managed to escape to the surface and raise the alarm. Last year Mr Fyfield and the mine's owner, MNS Mining Ltd, were acquitted of "manslaughter through gross negligence".

A new report from the Health and Safety Executive says: "There is a legal requirement for up-to-date plans of mine workings to be kept at the mine. These have to be updated by a quali-fied mine surveyor every three months, or sooner if the mine workings progress more than 100 metres from the last survey point."

During the massive search-and-rescue operation launched after the alarm was raised, a copy of the mine plan dated July 3 was found in the mine manager's office at Gleision and used by rescue workers to determine where any survivors might be. The report says: "Working closely with officers from South Wales Police's Major Crimes Unit, the Health and Safety Executive mines inspectors progressively analysed the information over the ensuing days, weeks and months, to build up a picture of how the mine was being worked at the time of the incident.

"The site investigation team did not find any evidence at the mine of an assessment of inrush hazards or precautions to be taken to guard against the risk from inrushes [of water]."

The report goes on to outline the legal responsibilities of mine owners in relation to health and safety. It states: "The mine owner and mine manager have joint duties to ensure that they are each in possession of all information relating to disused workings, including disused mine workings and strata likely to contain water or deposits likely to flow when wet, and to take steps to substantiate such information. They each have an obligation to pass on such information to the other and to the surveyor for the mine. If the manager proposes to work within a cautionary zone, he must first assess the information he has to enable him to consider whether an inrush may occur if no precautionary measures are taken."


Rescue workers at the entrance of the Gleision mine at Cilybebyll, near Swansea, in 2011

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 4, 2015
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