A large oil spill in the Afwateringkanaal in Farmsum has been identified as natural gas condensate, a dangerous by-product of natural gas extraction.
Translation by Traci White
Containers of natural gas condensate, which is a mixture of toxic substances that are released during natural gas extraction, reportedly leaked into the water. RTV Noord reports that the Dutch Public Prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into the incident.
The substance appeared to have leaked out from a tank park operated by NAM in Farmsum when a container overflowed. The gas by-product then flowed into the canal via a rainwater drain. The oil leak was initially spotted in Farmsum on Thursday of last week, but the nature of the substance and its origins remained unclear until Tuesday afternoon. Lab results confirmed that it was natural gas condensate.
Flammable and explosive
According to documents from Gasunie, the natural gas infrastructure and transportation company, natural gas condensate an environmentally hazardous substance which is flammable and explosive. Natural condensate vapour is carcinogenic and exposure to it can cause choking and drowsiness.
During a press conference on Tuesday, alderperson IJzebrand Rijzebol expressed alarm at NAM’s failure to identify the leak themselves. “If you are working with hazardous materials like this, you have to handle it with the utmost precaution.”
The surface of the water has already been cleaned. The Farmsum NAM location was in the news in recent months when a protest by Code Rood protestors ended in an aggressive response from the police.
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