A centre for processing claims filed due to induced earthquake damage in Groningen officially opened its doors on Monday morning. The centre, staffed by 30 people, will handle the backlog of 12,000 claims that have built up since 31 January 2017, as well as new claims.
The Groningen Internet Courant reports that the centre is one component of the new induced earthquake damage protocol which was published in late January by Minister of Economic Affairs, Eric Wiebes. In contrast with previous damage claim procedures, NAM, the company operating the natural gas fields in Groningen, has been fully side-lined in the new protocol.
The centre’s goal is to create an accurate overview of the number of damage claims being filed so that an independent committee can evaluate them.
During a visit to the centre on Thursday, Wiebes was impressed by how quickly the new protocol has been put into action and expects the centre to become a powerful tool. “No one can put a price tag on this. It’s about ensuring that damage claims are being processed fairly and independently, and making sure that the grievances of the citizens of the province are heard.”
One of the largest natural gas fields on earth is located three kilometres underground in Groningen. Gas has been extracted from the region for decades, and earthquakes have been occurring in recent years as a result of the extraction operations. The persistent induced earthquakes have caused damage to structures in the area. Until 2017, NAM was responsible for processing earthquake damage claims, a role which was eventually deemed controversial. From now on, the Dutch government will handle the claims.