The cabinet has acknowledged that too little attention was paid to public safety issues during drilling for gas in Groningen.
Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp told local broadcaster RTV Noord on Monday evening that ministers regret the situation. ‘I am truly sorry that the safety interests of the people of Groningen did not get the attention they deserved,’ Kamp said. ‘I am sorry things have happened this way.’
The Dutch safety board said in a report last month that the economic affairs ministry, drilling company NAM and the Dutch mining body ignored safety concerns in their pursuit of profit.
Kamp, who has reduced the volume of gas being extracted from under the province, said it is now ‘my job’ to ensure safety issues are paramount.
Tens of thousands of homes have to be shored up because of the damage caused by earthquakes as the ground settles when the gas has been taken out.
MPs are due to debate the report on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Kamp says in an interview in Tuesday’s AD that importing gas from Russia would be an option if extraction in Groningen is further reduced.
‘We are thinking about a system involving the import of 20 billion cubic metres, topped up with Groningen gas,’ he said.
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