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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 11:34 GMT
Flood pit pumps are switched off
Ellington colliery
More than 40 million gallons of water have been pumped out
Pumps keeping millions of gallons of floodwater at bay at a Northumberland coalmine have been switched off.

The decision by owners UK Coal spells the end of a union campaign to save Ellington Colliery - the north-east of England's last deep mine.

Almost 350 workers will lose their jobs at the mine, which has been in operation for 90 years.

Wansbeck MP Denis Murphy has tabled a commons motion accusing UK Coal of engineering the closure of the pit.

UK Coal confirmed pumps which began trying to rid the mine of floodwater in January, were turned off on Monday.

The company says it has pumped out more than 41 million gallons of water from the stricken pit since 12 January.

The National Union of Mineworkers accepted the move spelled the end of their campaign to save the pit.

But chairman Ian Lavery insisted there were reserves still to be tapped.

Actions condemned

He said: "We will see a day when we have to come back to Ellington to recover the millions of tonnes of coal which remains underground."

But a spokesman for UK Coal said safety concerns, coupled with the expense of recovering the remaining coal, meant the pit was not economically viable.

He said: "To recover the 800,000 to a million tonnes of coal at Ellington, would take us a year and cost 25m."

Meanwhile Wansbeck Labour MP Denis Murphy has called on Westminster colleagues to condemn the actions of UK Coal.

In a Commons motion tabled on Tuesday, Mr Murphy says: "This House ... condemns the actions of UK Coal, which has deliberately set out to engineer a situation to enable it to close the colliery."

The motion calls on UK Coal to continue pumping and to drain the face to establish once and for all the source of the water.

Mr Murphy has already called for an inquiry into how UK Coal has used 100m given to it in public subsidies over recent years.

A task force has been set up to look into how to deal with the closure and resulting job losses.




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