As of Wednesday evening, nearly 600 residents of the province of Groningen, many in the city, had filed induced earthquake damage claims to the local damage processing agency.
Of the claims filed, the Dutch wire service ANP reports that 25 were considered possibly “acutely unsafe situations”, which requires the properties in question to be inspected within 48 hours. As of Wednesday, seven properties had been evaluated.
The majority of the claims came from the municipality of Groningen: 294 residents contacted the agency. Het Hogeland (109) and Loppersum (61) residents also submitted claims in the province, and a handful of claims came in from the province of Drenthe.
The Groninger Internet Courant writes that the TCMG took over the damage claim process from the NAM, the Dutch natural gas company which carries out extraction in the region. The agency typically receives around 200 claims a week and is able to process around 300 of them, and they are still working through a backlog of claims that were filed to NAM.
Protest and flags at half-mast
According to Dagblad van het Noorden, dozens of farmers held an impromptu protest in a field in Middelstum, circling their tractors to symbolise the epicentre of the induced earthquakes. Many residents in and around the village of Westerwijtwerd, which has roughly 110 residents, hung their Gronings flags at half-mast in mourning for the ongoing damage caused by the quakes to property and people.
On Thursday morning, Dagblad van het Noorden also reported that a sculpture of a gas molecule along the A7 motorway between Sappemeer and Hoogeveen was defaced with yellow and red paint. The sculpture symbolises 50 years of the gas industry operating in the Slochteren gas field, and has been targeted in the past, often following strong induced quakes.
The mayors of the municipalities in the induced earthquake zone published a collective statement on Wednesday, stating that the 3.4 magnitude Westerwijtwerd quake laid bare the fact that the residents of the province are living in a painful crisis. The mayors called for emergency repairs to being immediately and for the levels the ministry of economics has suggested for 2020 to be decreased further.
In addition to filing damage claims at the TCMG, impacted residents were encouraged to contact their local Client Contact Centre (Klant Contact Centrum) if they needed to talk to someone about the consequences of the quake on them personally.
While the number of natural gas extraction-induced quakes has decreased in recent years as gas production has been scaled back (and is set to continued declining until being stopped altogether in 2030), there are typically one to two earthquakes a week across the province. It was revealed in recent months that some of the equipment used to measure the intensity of the quakes was not properly calibrated, which may have led to the magnitude of a number of quakes being inaccurately measured.
Since the Wednesday morning quake, two more small quakes have occurred in the municipality of Groningen, according to the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI. Following a 3.4 magnitude induced quake in Zeerijp in January of 2018, thousands of protestors marched through the city of Groningen with torches calling for an end to perceived government inaction and indifference toward the impacted Groningers.
Earthquakes and energy
One of the first episodes of The Northern Times’ podcast – Econ 050 – is a conversation with professor Machiel Mulder about the future of natural gas in the region, continued dependence on gas as an electricity source and the role of the Dutch state in the industry. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing an episode about one potential alternative for the industry: green hydrogen. You can find all of our episodes on iTunes and right here on the Northern Times site at econ050.northerntimes.nl.