Investigation confusion

The State Government has moved to clarify recent media reports an ‘inquiry’ had been established to address the Yallourn mine’s disastrous Morwell River collapse, which has seen billions of litres of water flooding into the mine for about seven weeks.

State Energy and Resources Minister Michael O’Brien was quoted on the ABC’s 730 Victoria program recently saying an independent expert had been established to determine the cause and responsibility of the collapse.

The quote was interpreted as the government’s response to ongoing calls for a formal inquiry into the mining disaster, which was labelled “catastrophic” by the Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union.

However in an attempt to clarify the investigation process, Mr O’Brien told The Express on Friday the appointment of external geo technical expert Keith Seddon, was not in response to the repeated calls for a parliamentary inquiry.

“Preparation for an investigation, including the engagement of an independent technical expert, has been underway since the incident occurred, in line with standard practice for an incident of this nature,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Seddon will work in conjunction with Department of Primary Industries’ investigators, who have been on-site since the incident, investigating whether there had been any breach of statutory requirements by the Yallourn mine operator, TRUenergy.

Mr O’Brien said while there was “no set deadline for completion of the investigation”, it would “take as long as is necessary”, and the findings of which would be made public. Mr O’Brien said Mr Seddon’s formal work was due to begin on-site today.