Pike River: is it safe to re-enter? John Campbell investigates

Eight years on from the Pike River mine disaster, there is still no definitive answer as to what caused the explosion that killed 29 men - but re-entering the mine moved a step closer last week. 

On TVNZ1's Q+A this week, John Campbell went to Pike River for the latest update on re-entry. 

New experts have come up with three plans for re-entry, with the best and safest of those plans to go to Pike Recovery Minister Andrew Little.

It's likely a recovery team will get Government approval to go in, and last Wednesday, the Pike River Recovery Agency settled on its preferred re-entry plan. 

CEO Dave Gawn said he would not take a plan to Mr Little unless he was confident they were "in a space to make a recommendation of a course of action that is both technically feasible and safe to undertake". 

He said there was "still a lot of stuff that we don't know", such as the condition of the drift.

"But we know we can get inside safely."

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    After a long and detailed risk analysis of options, one will be handed to the Government within days. Source: 1 NEWS

    Independent Advisor to the Government Rob Fyfe said he could not overstate the quality and the expertise working on re-entry.

    John Campbell described the progress already being done to prepare for re-entry as "major work, which in part is about getting the methane out of the mine and getting nitrogen in". 

    Anna Osborne of the Pike River Families Reference Group said re-entry was "real now". 

    "It's happening, this is happening, we've fought so long we've had so many road blocks put up in our way, but no, not anymore."

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      John Campbell reports from the West Coast where he's had exclusive access to the Pike River recovery team who are close to a decision on whether a safe re-entry will go ahead. Source: Q+A