Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Pike River mine closure delayed a week to allow families to mark sixth anniversary of tragedy

The sealing-off of the Pike River mine has been delayed for a week to allow families to mark the sixth anniversary of the disaster.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said this afternoon that it was an emotional time for the families and the Government wanted to avoid any tension between victims' families and Solid Energy staff.

"Solid Energy has deferred any further work on the site aside from safety inspections for the next week," he said.

Smith also said no new information had come to light which contradicted Solid Energy's view that the mine was unsafe to re-enter. A new seal has been constructed in the drift, and methane levels beyond that barrier were close to 95 per cent, he said.

"I remain doubtful of claims that the mine can be safely re-entered. The mine is full of methane and is likely to have residual heat sources capable of triggering an explosion if there was a source of oxygen.

There is the added risk of rock falls from unstable strata fractured by the 2010 explosions."

A methane explosion in 2010 killed 29 people in the mine, and their bodies have never been recovered. Families of some of the victims have sought independent advice and believe the drift near the entrance of the mine is safe to re-enter.

- NZ Herald

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