South West Wales

Family calls for public inquiry call over Gleision mine deaths

Gleision mining victims Image copyright South wales police
Image caption Garry Jenkins, 39, Philip Hill, 44, David Powell, 50, and Charles Breslin, 62, were killed in the mine

The parents of one of the four miners killed in the Gleision mine disaster have called for a public inquiry into the incident.

Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, drowned in 2011 when 650,000 gallons of water flooded the drift mine following a controlled explosion.

Manager Malcolm Fyfield and owners MNS Mining were cleared of manslaughter.

But Ann and Malcolm Jenkins say they are still looking for answers.

The men, including Mr Fyfield, were working underground when water tore into the pit after they blasted into old coal workings near Pontardawe to improve ventilation.

The prosecution claimed the manager had been warned about the existence of underground water, but he said an inspection the day before the incident found only "ponding" water on the floor.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Rescuers had to pump water from the mine during the search before they could access it

Malcolm Jenkins, himself a former miner, said the family were not satisfied they knew all the details about what happened in the mine.

He wants to know who and why the decision was made to mine in the direction of underground water.

'Not seeking vengeance'

"We only want to know what happened on that day," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday Neath MP Peter Hain raised the issue in a Westminster hall debate.

He said the absence of a full inquest had left the families without a full explanation of what caused the men's deaths.

"They do not seek vengeance and scapegoats and nor do I. All they have asked for is justice, but they have still not received that," he said.

Mark Harper, Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions whose brief includes health and safety, said a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on the tragedy to be published in the new year would not settle questions considered at the trial.

"The mines inspectorate will use their professional expertise to set out the evidence from the thorough site investigation which took place," he said.

"As I say, it will be published for everybody to see and I hope it will set out some lessons that can be learned from this tragedy."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Malcolm Fyfield said there was only a small amount of water present the day before the incident

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