Mine found guilty over disaster

Monday, 17 January, 2005

The owners and operators of a Hunter Valley colliery have been found guilty of safety breaches that led to the deaths of four miners in the Gretley disaster almost eight years ago.

Miners Edward Batterham, 48, Damon Murray, 19, John Hunter, 36, and Mark Kaiser, 30, drowned in a mining shaft 150 m underground after they drilled into a flooded shaft in the Gretley Colliery on 14 November 1996. NSW Industrial Relations Commission Justice Patricia Staunton handed down her judgment which found the companies and three individuals guilty of safety breaches. The Wallsend Coal Company, its parent company Oakbridge, the mine's surveyor and two managers were found guilty of breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act. At the time of the disaster, Gretley was operated by Newcastle Wallsend and Oakbridge. It is now owned by Xstrata. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said the convictions were historic and long overdue. CFMEU mining and energy division general president Tony Maher said the judgment would be a relief for the miners' families.

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