Ever heard of a Dutch earthquake? Doesn’t sound believable right? You might not have noticed if you’re an expat, but the Netherlands is more than just the “Randstad” and Amsterdam. We have some beautiful, and mostly empty, provinces in the North which the Dutch tend to treat like they’re not there. Except of course when we’re draining their gas bubbles and causing earthquakes. The NAM has been in a long, drawn out legal dispute over whether or not they’re responsible for the damages (they are) and if they should compensate those who live their for material and immaterial suffering (they should).
The gas mining has lowered the value of homes for local citizens. The houses themselves have been regularly damaged by small earthquakes that arose as a result of the NAM’s industrial endeavors. Dutch court ruled last March that the NAM was responsible and had to pay for both the material and immaterial damages. The NAM has now launched in appeal, claiming they “do not contest their responsibility in the damages”. Instead their appeals focusses on what exactly falls under immaterial damage and how much of it they have to pay.
Lawsuits have been ongoing since at least 2015, when a court ruled compensation was required for the value loss of homeowners in the region. Of course the NAM went into appeal on that ruling as well. This shouldn’t really be surprising because the NAM is a joined venture owned by Shell and Exxon. Two companies not exactly known for caring about people. Examples aplenty for those that are willing to look. For now it doesn’t appear like a solution is forthcoming, putting a permanent black mark on the Dutch tradition of solidarity.
Meanwhile if you feel like visiting the Dutch North, I can highly recommend Giethoorn, or as we like to call it, Dutch Venice.