In Groningen, the Netherlands, induced earthquakes occur in a relatively densely populated area, the so-called Groningen gas field. Many houses and other buildings have been facing damage, from minor cracks to severe damage. The gas extraction company (NAM, a joint venture of Shell and Exxon Mobil) is held responsible for the earthquakes and has a legal liability to compensate for the damage. In addition to damage, several houses in the area are thought to be unsafe (not allowing occupants to leave their houses alive in case of a major earthquake). Both NAM and the Dutch government play a crucial role in the gas problems; where NAM is responsible for damage, the government has to guarantee citizens’ safety. Government has given orders to develop a strengthening operation for thousands houses.
For many inhabitants, the practice of damage repair and strengthening has not been very effective and satisfying. First, the system of damage compensation, is neither simple nor expeditious; many citizens experience long waiting times, arbitrariness in causality and damage judgements and, as a result, unfair treatments. Second, after plans had been launched to inspect and eventually strengthen thousands of houses, the Minister decided to gradually reduce gas extraction. Immediately after that, he also decided to pause the intended strengthening operation, leaving many inhabitants in uncertainty about the current safety of their houses.
In short, Groningen citizens don’t feel taken seriously by NAM, government and executing agencies, they are dissatisfied with damage settlements and their confidence in private (oil/gas companies) and public parties (government) has reached an all-time low. This situation has turned out to be very obstinate and difficult to turn. Our statement is that the architecture of the damage and strengthening operation is based on a systematic flaw. Although several minor changes have been made in the damage settlement and strengthening system, they have been limited to executing agencies and are not substantial. Therefore it is argued that, unless this structural flaw is being solved, the Netherlands will stay confronted with Groningen citizens whose trust in government is a far cry and will eventually lead to feelings of alienation.
|Period||23/06/19 → 26/08/19|
- damage compensation
- induces earthquakes