The Chilean commission investigating the mining disaster in the Atacama desert last year, has found the owners of the San Jose mine and the National Service of Geology and Mines responsible for the accident and the Chilean government free of any blame.
The commission was set up by the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, five months ago, to investigate the accident in northern Chile, which fortunately caused no deaths. Thirty three miners were trapped underground for 72-days whilst an intense and complex rescue operation was set up, attracting massive, worldwide media attention.
One of the main points of the commission’s findings was that primarily responsible are the owners of the mine, Alejandro Bohn and Marcelo Kemeny because “they didn’t have adequate safety measures in place, required by the authorities.”
One of the members of the commission Deputy Felipe Harboe said “there has clearly been negligence on the part of the company; they offered better salaries, knowing the risks involved. They wanted to replace safety and increase their income, this is not only inhumane but it is unacceptable.”
Deputy Carlos Vilches said “it is clear that it was Bohn and Kemeny’s responsibility, they even told workers about the risks of working in the mine. They heard the noises, warning that there could be a collapse and didn’t let the workers out.”
The commission also outlined the responsibility of the National Service of Geology and Mines (Sernageomin), due to their lack of adequate inspections in the mine.
The president of the commission Alejandro Garcia Huidobro outlined “it is very important that we completely reorganise Sernageomin and pertinent authorities. The country needs this and it is what the country’s top economic activity requires.”
The deputies ruled out political responsibilities, claiming that “when there is an organism such as a public one, those responsible are the people in charge of it, therefore the relationship with the ministries was indirect. That is why we understand that the direct responsibility of anyone from the previous government or the current one does not exist and it is purely the responsibility of the administrative organisms in charge of controls.”