Inspectors criticised over pit accident: Roof bolts 'unsuited to Bilsthorpe tunnel'
Sources close to the inquiry into the roof fall that killed three men at the Nottinghamshire colliery said initial impressions of union officials about the nearness of old workings to the site of the disaster were wrong.
Unions reported that there was a metre of coal separating the new roadway from the old, which they regarded as insufficient. However, sources now say that at least one point there was nothing between the tunnels. It was possible to walk from one to the other. Brian Langdon, deputy chief inspector of mines, who is leading the initial investigation into the accident, has already indicated that the old workings might have been the main cause of the accident.
Peter McNestry, general secretary of the pit supervisors' union Nacods, said that if there was nothing to separate the roadways, colliery inspectors should have refused to sanction the operation. He said the new evidence meant that the roof bolt system used was inappropriate.
Roof bolts, used for many years in the American industry, have been introduced into Britain. Mr McNestry's union and the National Union of Mineworkers have opposed this, although the Union of Democratic Mineworkers, the main union at Bilsthorpe, has been less hostile.
Both the NUM and Nacods are worried that there could be a 'cover-up' of the true causes of the disaster. They believe that unsafe practices are increasingly being used to improve productivity ahead of privatisation and to avoid pit closures. The future of Bilsthorpe itself is uncertain.
Visiting the colliery yesterday, the energy minister Tim Eggar said any lessons learned from the tragedy would be applied to other collieries.
Labour MPs and some union leaders have criticised plans to reform pit safety regulations and Nacods yesterday decided to seek a judicial review. The new regime would do away with Nacods members' right to stop work they think potentially dangerous.
Mr Eggar said the new regulations followed many years of consultations and there had been an elaborate period of re-examination. It was the view of the Health and Safety Commission that the new regulations would improve safety standards, he said.
Mick Stevens, UDM secretary for Nottinghamshire, told Mr Eggar that the three men would have died in vain if Bilsthorpe closed.
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 3 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 4 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Nazi gold train: 'Significant' discovery made in Poland
Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Carol Vorderman reveals she is 'covered in burns' after she fell off her treadmill while running naked
TTIP controversy: The European Commission and Big Tobacco accused of cover-up after heavily redacted documents released
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...