Thursday 19 September 2019

Treat earthquake damage as a national crisis, inspectors tell minister

A condemned and shored-up cafe in Zeerijp. Photo: Graham Dockery

The government must tackle the earthquake damage facing home owners in Groningen as if it were a national crisis, the government’s mining inspectorate has told economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes.

Thousands of houses have been damaged by earthquakes, most recently when one of the most powerful yet recorded hit the village of Westerwijterd. That quake led to 2,000 reports of damage, which come on top of the 15,000 reports which still have to be dealt with, the inspectors said.

‘Some 10,000 people in Groningen are suffering from stress and related health problems because of the quakes,’ chief inspector Theodor Kockelkoren said. ‘The continuing likelihood of serious earthquakes, the major economic impact and the social consequences threaten to disrupt society in the region.’

Approaching the problem as a national crisis, by setting up a powerful body with wide powers and its own budget, would help to solve the situation, the inspectors said.

To kick off, 300 homes already earmarked for reinforcements should be tackled immediately. In addition, local authorities should be far more involved in the process, such as in helping residents to carry out their own repairs, the report said.

The inspectors also said that gas extraction from under the province should be reduced more quickly.

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