Designate Groningen earthquakes a national crisis, Ombudsman says
The consequences of the fracking earthquakes in Groningen have all the features of a national crisis and should therefore be designated as such, National Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen said. He wants this to keep attention on the situation in Groningen until homes are reinforced, damages are repaired, and residents feel safe, Trouw reports.
"I wanted to choose words that hit so hard that people think: damn it, now we really have to do something," the National Ombudsman said in an interview with Trouw. "In one way or another, the attention for Groningen is disappearing. Things are taking too long, and the good things don't really happen. This is a national crisis, which the government and administration have to deal with differently."
Van Zutphen recommended that the new Cabinet should include a Minster or State Secretary explicitly focused on solving the gas extraction problems in Groningen. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is currently responsible for damage repair, while the Home Affairs is responsible for the reinforcement operation. And as a result, everything is moving at a snail's pace. Of the over 26,000 homes eligible for reinforcement, only 8 percent have been reinforced, and 6 percent are in the process.
Groningen deserves a dedicated Cabinet member, according to Van Zutphen. "Someone who says: It's done now, and we're pushing ahead. No more new investigations, no new procedures, or new rules to the game. A crisis organization with perseverance."
The coronavirus crisis showed that the Cabinet can make major decisions and implement them quickly and energetically. "Then why not in Groningen?" Van Zutphen said. "The government has known for more than five years that there are serious problems. Damage needs to be repaired, reinforcements need to be done, and neither of them can get off the ground."