NAM director apologizes for controversial statements on reinforcement project
Director of the Dutch gas concern (NAM), Jan Atema, said he regrets the statements he made about the reinforcement operation in the Groningen earthquake area. The operation was set to reinforce homes that were damaged due to fracking in the earthquake zone in Groningen.
In an interview with NRC more than a week ago, Atema, claimed that the reinforcement operation is no longer necessary. He also said that, based on the latest figures, only 50 instead of 26 thousand homes in the area require reinforcement.
The interview drew criticism from some who believed that Atema downplayed the concerns of homeowners in the region.
“I am sorry that I let frustrations run high”, he said in a follow-up interview by RTV Noord. The director, nonetheless, stuck with his statement that a large-scale reinforcement operation is probably no longer necessary.
Atema said he should not have mentioned the number 50. “That number has taken a life of its own”, he said. “I also say more, for example, existing agreements must be fulfilled. So if you are already part of a scheme, it is government policy to complete it.”
An agreement has already been reached with nine thousand homeowners to reinforce their houses. Atema said he was referring to roughly 13 thousand homes that have not yet been inspected.
NAM will also continue to pay for the reinforcement of homes, although a majority of the costs as covered by the state. For every euro that is spent in the reinforcement operation, only 27 cents are paid by NAM themselves.
The Dutch gas concern claimed it has scaled down on its production in Groningen compared to previous years. “We only produce a fraction of what we used to. What happens then is that you get less risk, fewer earthquakes and, therefore, less risk of collapse”, the director said.
NAM has disputed the costs of the reinforcement project and repairing damages in the past. The Tweede Kamer demanded a hearing on the reinforcement operation before the summer.