The reinforcement operation in the Groningen earthquake zone is still going far too slowly, according to the State Supervision of Mines (SodM) in its most recent annual report.

    In that sense it is a repetitive record, although there is also positive news: assessing homes whether reinforcement is needed is getting better and faster.

    The number of homes in Groningen that need to be reinforced due to earthquake damage is piling up. The amplification rate must increase by a factor of three to achieve the target. It has been agreed that the reinforcement operation must be completed in 2028.

    Poorer health and less sense of security

    At the current pace, this will never work. This is the conclusion of the State Supervision of Mines (SodM) in its annual progress report on safety in Groningen as a result of gas extraction. The study covers the period April 2021 to April 2022.

    The health of affected Groningen residents declined last year, after an improvement was observed in 2020. Groningen residents whose houses are reinforced have poorer health and feel less safe than people whose houses do not need to be reinforced.

    Every year, sixteen people die prematurely as a result of long-term stress in the earthquake area.

    13,000 more homes need reinforcements

    The safety of the people of Groningen is now insufficiently guaranteed, according to the SodM in its report. It is not yet certain that “several thousand houses” are safe. Some 13,000 houses still need to be reinforced. Many buildings also need to be damaged. “In addition, fortified and damaged buildings can sustain new damage as a result of gas extraction.”

    The SodM notes that the acceleration of the reinforcement operation promised by the National Coordinator Groningen (NCG) has not yet been noticeable. Since the start of the reinforcement operation, 2500 houses have been renovated, of which 650 in 2021.

    ‘Stress and misery are behind the front door’

    Inspector-General of Mines, Theodor Kockelkoren, states that an “invisible crisis” is taking place in Groningen. It should not be underestimated. “The stress, misery and health problems are behind the front door. Fortunately, there have been no fatalities as a result of a major earthquake, but the chance of that is still too high.”