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Gretley Miners To Be Remembered

Media Releases

State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, will today debate a Notice of Motion in Parliament honouring the four miners killed in the Gretley Mine disaster.

On the 14 November 1996, Edward Batterham, Mark Kaiser, John Hunter and Damon Murray were killed when they dug into an old flooded mine, causing an inrush of water that swept them to their deaths.

Water rushed into the heading from a hole in the face made by a continuous miner. The machine, weighing about 50 tonnes, was swept some 17.5 metres back down the heading where it jammed against the sides. The four men were engulfed by the water, swept away and drowned. The remaining team members survived the disaster by reason of being in the crib room, which itself was flooded.

The water came from the long-abandoned old workings of the Young Wallsend Colliery. The mine was working to a plan, which had been approved by the Department of Mineral Resources. The plan showed the Young Wallsend Colliery more than 100m away from the point of holing-in. It is now clear that the plan was wrong. At the commencement of the night shift at 11.00pm on 13 November 1996, the Young Wallsend Colliery was only 7 or 8 metres away.

The Notice of Motion will remember the lives of the four men tragically killed at Gretley and the changes in mine safety and training that were borne out of this disaster.

Remembering those who have lost their lives ensures that their sacrifice is not lost. In 1996 five Hunter mineworkers were killed in NSW and 30 have lost their lives at work since that time.

Quotes attributable to Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery

“This disaster greatly impacted the Wallsend community and this Notice of Motion will remember the tragedy’s 20th anniversary.”

“Everyone deserves to be able to go home at the end of their shift, and families should never have to worry about their loved ones working in the mines or whether they will come home safe.”

“Following the disaster, necessary changes were made to safety and training in mines right across the State.”

“Coal mining remains a very dangerous industry, but thankfully changes fought for by the CFMEU Mining Division now mean coal mines in New South Wales are recognised as some of the safest in the world.”

“It is important to remember those who have lost their lives to ensure that their sacrifice is not lost.”

“This Notice of Motion will ensure that Edward Batterham, Mark Kaiser, John Hunter and Damon Murray are never forgotten.”