Groningen residents start protest month on 10th anniversary of strongest earthquake
The gas extraction problems are still “undiminished,” so Groningen residents will take to the streets from Tuesday to draw attention to the “slow motion disaster” in their province. Groningen organizations are kicking off a month of action on the 10th anniversary of the earthquake near Huizinge, with a magnitude of 3.6, the strongest gas extraction earthquake in the Netherlands.
Although the severe earthquake on August 16, 2012, “woke up” the Netherlands, the action groups Het Groninger Gasberaad and the Groninger Bodem Beweging believe that the government policy has fallen short since then. The quake was felt in a large area and caused much damage. In the years that followed, there was a great deal of protest against gas extraction in the area.
Together with initiators Sandra Beckerman and Chris Garrit, the action groups organized a march from Huizinge to the center of Groningen to kick off their month of protest. The walk was about 20 kilometers long and ended at around 4:00 p.m. on the Grote Markt.
Groningen regularly faces earthquakes caused by gas drilling, called induced earthquakes. The province is home to the largest gas field in the Netherlands. Due to the earthquakes, the government promised in 2018 to phase out gas extraction as soon as possible. But since Russia invaded Ukraine and energy prices skyrocketed, the call for more gas from Groningen has become louder and louder.
The action groups called it unacceptable and demanded that the gas tap be closed as soon as possible. They want a “safe and stress-free living environment” for all Groningen residents and generous compensation for the damages suffered.
The Cabinet plans to stop regular gas production in October. Then the gas field goes on “pilot flame position,” and only a limited amount of gas needed to keep the installation running is pumped up. In an emergency, gas extraction can then resume quickly. But according to State Secretary Hans VIjlbrief (Mining), that is really a last resort.
During the coming campaign month, the initiators will organize several gatherings with different themes, including phasing out gas extraction, damage and reinforcement, and young people and health. The action month will end on September 16 at the Vismarkt in Groningen with the presentation of Groningen residents’ requirements to policymakers.
Reporting by ANP