NAM should not be prosecuted for Groningen earthquake damage: Prosecutor
After "intensive investigation" the Public Prosecution Service (OM) found "no evidence of deliberate criminal behavior by NAM" and it therefore recommends that the company not be prosecuted for damages caused by fracking earthquakes in Groningen. According to the OM, there was no evidence that the residents of Groningen had to fear for their lives due to the consequences of NAM gas extraction, NOS reports.
In 2017, the Groninger Bodem Beweging and a number of individuals filed an Article-12 procedure to try and force the prosecutor to prosecute NAM for damages caused by fracking earthquakes. The Arnhem-Leeuwarden court ruled that the OM had to investigate possible criminal violations by NAM. According to the court, there were indications that NAM was guilty of deliberately damaging homes with its gas extraction and thereby putting locals' lives in danger.
According to the OM, its investigation showed that there is "significant damage to homes as a result of the earthquakes caused by gas extraction". But in no case can it be proven that "as a result of this damage, there was a concrete danger to the lives of the residents". The OM therefore asked the court to discontinue prosecution.
"We would like to emphasize that this assessment does not detract from the concrete suffering that complainants and other victims are experiencing to this day from the earthquakes as a result of the gas extraction. And the accompanying feelings of insecurity," Noord-Nederland prosecutor Diederik Grieve said. According to the OM, criminal law is not the solution in this case. "The suffering will have to be compensated in other ways."
Jelle van der Knoop, the chairman of the Groninger Bodem Beweging called the OM's decision incomprehensible. "Dozens of people were forced to leave their homes because of an acute risk of collapse," he said. "Perhaps there is no intention, but there is the knowledge that if they continue to extract gas, people will be endangered."