NAM faces criminal investigation over toxic substance in Groningen canal

A criminal investigation into NAM was launched because of the leak of toxic natural gas condensate into a canal in Farmsum, Groningen, the State supervisor on mines SodM announced. A stain of natural gas condensate has been floating in the canal since Thursday, reports.

Natural gas condensate is a byproduct of natural gas extraction. It is a very toxic substance. It leaked into the canal after a drip tray in which the condensate was collected overflowed, according to the newspaper.

The SodM summoned NAM on Monday and ordered the company to minimize the "size of the discharge as soon as possible" and to repair any damage to the environment. The regulator also instructed NAM to keep the parties that supervise gas extraction and the municipality informed, start an investigation into the leak, and indicate how this can be prevented in the future.

NAM said it "supports" the independent investigation into the leak, which will be performed by the Environment Service, the municipality of Delfzijl and the Hunze and Aa's water board, according to the newspaper. NAM checked the sewer pits on the site of the tank farm on Friday and Saturday, and they appear to be clean. 

A sample of the leaked substance in the canal was sent to a laboratory, and when it showed that it was "probably" natural gas condensate, NAM informed the municipality and found the source of the leak. The company said it subsequently took measures to "prevent recurrence of leaks to surface water". NAM said it regrets the incident and will take responsibility for the costs.