Prime Minister Mark Rutte is visiting Groningen on Friday to discuss gas extraction in the province and the many fracking earthquakes it resulted in. His schedule includes talks with people affected by earthquake damage, a dinner and receiving a petition against gas extraction, Dagblad van het Noorden reports.
Dutch petroleum company NAM has withdrawn from handling claims related to earthquake damage or any other problems caused by gas extraction in Groningen, RTV Noord reports based on sources within NAM. This follows a report the Dutch Safety Board published on Thursday which states that the Dutch government should be responsible for handling Groningen fracking damage claims, not NAM, NU.nl reports.
A massive 90 percent of the money available for settling earthquake damage in Groningen is spent on inspections, experts and reports. Only 10 percent goes to actually repairing the damage caused by fracking earthquakes, the Volkskrant reported on Friday based on the latest quarterly report by Hans Alders, the National Coordinator for Groningen.
The province of Groningen, municipalities affected by fracking earthquakes, water boards and the local safety office are all calling on the Dutch government to reduce gas extraction in the province even further to prevent more earthquakes.
Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs and Employment believes a large earthquake-proofing operation to homes and buildings in Groningen can create thousands of new jobs in the area. On Monday he visited the earthquake stricken area and signed an intention declaration stating that all parties used in the strengthening operations will be Groningen residents
The Dutch government allocated 291 million euros for strengthening schools in Groningen to make them earthquake-proof, Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs and Education Minister Jet Bussemaker and State Secretary Sander Dekker wrote to parliament on Monday
Hans Alders, the National Coordinator Groningen, plans to appoint an arbitrator to have final say on contested earthquake damage claims on homes in the province. This arbitrator will work as a "traveling judge" that Groningen residents can call on if they are dissatisfied with the decision made on their claim after the inspection done by an expert and counter-expert.
Gas extraction in Groningen may be reduced even further for the rest of this year. Sources from within the Binnenhof told NU that the total gas extraction for 2015 may be capped at 30 billion cubic meters, instead of the 39.5 billion cubic meters agreed upon earlier this year.
Minister Henk Kamp announced a package of additional measures that should further enhance the safety and quality of life in Groningen. These measures include a temporary reduction in gas extraction, a National Coordinator, simplified claims and broader compensation measures.