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Gleision Colliery mining disaster inquest to re-open

21 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Memorial to Gleision Mine Disaster. Photo by Nigel Davies is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

A decision to re-open a full inquest into the Gleision Colliery mining disaster has been announced today.

It comes after a long campaign by those directly affected by the tragedy which claimed the lives of four men in 2011.

In October this year a protest was held in Cilybebyll, by families to urge the Coroner for Swansea and Neath Port Talbot to respond to the evidence presented back in April 2022.

The evidence had suggested that alleged failures by the regulatory bodies may have resulted in operators illegally working coal and not recording it on the mine plans.

On 15th September 2011, following routine blasting in the Gleision Colliery near Cilybebyll, Pontardawe, thousands of gallons of water flooded into the tunnel where seven miners were working.

Though three of the seven were able to escape to safety, four miners remained trapped.

Emergency workers at the scene of the Gleision Colliery in 2011. Photograph: Carl Ryan/South Wales police/PA

Lives lost

Despite efforts by the Mid and West Wales Fire Service and Mines Rescue, it was confirmed the following day that Charles Breslin, David Powell, Philip Hill, and Garry Jenkins had lost their lives.

Investigations followed and manslaughter charges were brought against both the site manager and MNS Mining Ltd., both were later found not guilty of all charges.

Questions were raised concerning the operation of the mine and a detailed independent investigation identified several issues not previously explored.

The families of the four men who lost their lives, the mine owners and elected representatives have argued that this evidence further points to the need for a full inquest, which was originally opened and then adjourned in 2013.

In October 2022, the Coroner heard legal arguments from the barrister engaged to represent those calling for him to open a full inquest.

Welcome decision

Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, Sioned Williams today joined the families who gathered outside the Coroner’s Court to hear the announcement.

Sioned Williams MS said: “Despite the absurd amount of time that it has taken to get to this point, I welcome today’s decision by the Coroner for Swansea and Neath Port Talbot to conduct a full inquest into the Gleision colliery disaster.

“While today’s decision won’t bring back those who tragically lost their lives 11 years ago, a full inquest will hopefully provide those answers.

“Today’s decision to re-open an inquest provides some hope that the wishes of the families will finally now be listened to.”

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