Fourteen contractors have put in their bid to help the Pike River Recovery Agency in its re-entry efforts.
It marks another huge step towards the hopeful recovery of the remains of 29 people who died inside the Pike River mine during the fatal 2010 explosion.
Each contractor will be evaluated before the agency selects one or more for the endeavour.
Dinghy Pattinson, chief operating officer of the Pike River Recovery Agency, told Wendyl Nissen that the contractor will be involved in the recovery of the 2.5km access tunnel.
The manned tunnel re-entry will aim to recover possible remains and to collect forensic evidence.
“Our plan is based around doing a manned re-entry and doing under fresh air,” Mr Pattinson said. “So we are going to remove any of the methane from the mine workings and the tunnel.”
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Methan in the mine and tunnel will be replaced with nitrogen. Some of the nitrogen in the tunnel will be replaced with fresh air.
But Mr Pattinson warns that there still are many risks to assess, with the next steps involving an assessment of the risks ahead of the tunnel recovery.
“We know there are bodies in the mine’s workings. We don’t know if there are any in the tunnel because at the time of the explosion there were people going in and out of that tunnel.”
He said the list of unknowns is precisely why the re-entry is being completed in stages.
“You don’t just go charging off down the full end of the tunnel when you get down there. You do it in stages, bit by bit, and you have to address those risks as you come across them”
While the Government has announced the recovery to be completed by March 2019, Mr Pattinson told RadioLIVE that it’s not necessarily set in stone.
“You’ve got to bear in mind that we’re not going to compromise our planning or safety based on a time constraint.”
Listen to the full interview with Dinghy Pattinson above.
The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.