Jorritsma: tried to properly regulate the handling of damage caused by gas extraction

Former minister Jorritsma thought in her time as an administrator that she had come up with a good solution for the damage handling of the earthquakes in Groningen. The VVD politician was questioned today by the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Natural Gas Extraction Groningen.

From 1998 to 2002, Jorritsma was Minister of Economic Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister in the second cabinet Kok. During her reign, she was confronted with the (aftermath of) some quakes in the extraction area.

Jorritsma said she received signals at the time that the handling of the damage was not going well. She then determined that the independent Technical Committee on Soil Movement could be called in for this. He had to give advice on the damage: โ€œWe thought it would have to go crazy if the causative agent didnt want to pay. We tried to do what we could to make sure that people could do their justice.โ€

Burden of Proof Reversal

The committee continued for a long time on the question whether it had not been better to turn the burden of proof in case of damage claims at the time. The NAM would have had to show that the damage was not caused by gas extraction. Jorritsma said she didnt see anything in that. According to her, there was a good chance that the NAM would often go to court and that the citizen with harm would not have been helped with that.

Jorritsma did not want to address the question of whether she would have done things differently with the knowledge of today. โ€œYou are in the process of a fact-finding. I want to limit myself to that and share with you as little reflection as possible about how I had seen it all differently.โ€

Never called to the Chamber

The former woman of command further pointed out that the earthquakes were not as important at the time as later. She doesnt remember ever being called to the Chamber for it. According to her, during her ministry, it was mainly about dealing with the damage as quickly as possible and not so much about preventive measures to prevent tremors. โ€œThere was never a big commotion that it didnt have to be like that anymore. Thats really from a much later date.โ€

Former Gasunie chief Verberg, who was the first to be questioned today, strongly criticized the conclusions of the Safety Research Council on gas extraction. The council previously concluded that when inflating gas, the maximum yield was first and not the safety of the residents of Groningen.

Verberg spoke of a very bad report, which does not do justice to the reputation of the Research Council. In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked in various positions at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, including as Director General for Energy. He then held top positions at the Gasunie until 2004, of which twelve years as chief director.