Most of Groningen earthquake damage money spent on inspection

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A massive 90 percent of the money available for settling earthquake damage in Groningen is spent on inspections, experts and reports. Only 10 percent goes to actually repairing the damage caused by fracking earthquakes, the Volkskrant reported on Friday based on the latest quarterly report by Hans Alders, the National Coordinator for Groningen.

Over the past three months Dutch petroleum company NAM spent a total of 22.8 million euros on dealing with 3,379 damage claims. Only 2.2 million euros was spent on repairs. According to the Volkskrant, settling the average claim cost 6,090 euros, only 656 euros of which went for repairs.

The center for safe housing CVW, which handles damages caused by gas extraction earthquakes for NAM, recognizes the problem. Spokesperson Arjen van der Leur told the newspaper that these claims involve "procedures that take months, are costly and in which emotions run high."

Van der Leur explained that compensation of about 1,500 euros will be paid out for recognized earthquake damage. But now that there are fewer earthquakes in Groningen, damages are more often written off as non-earthquake related. That increases the number of counter-experts called in, and therefore also the costs. "We will make no progress if we only spend money on experts", he said to the Volkskrant.

CVW therefore plans to simplify the way in which claims are handled. From next year people can submit simple claims via an app. The CVW hopes that a photo will make inspection unnecessary and speed up the process. 

Simplifying the claim process is not enough, according to interest group Groninger Gasberraad. "The endless debate about causes and effects has to stop", Susan Top of the group said to the newspaper. "No one deliberately make tears in his house." She calls the figures "unbelievable" and a "damage circus". "And then we aren't even talk about the psychological stress of the earthquakes. What on earth are we doing?"