Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
Parts of Low Country Are Now Quake Country

LOPPERSUM, the Netherlands — Jannes Kadyk’s modest brick home suffered more than $5,000 in damage. Bert de Jong’s more stately home will need about $500,000 to get back into shape. Both houses, like thousands of others, were damaged during recent earthquakes that have shaken the flat farmland in this area dotted with villages and tucked up against the North Sea.

The quakes were caused by the extraction of natural gas from the soil deep below. The gas was discovered in the 1950s, and extraction began in the 1960s, but only in recent years have the quakes become more frequent, about 18 in the first six weeks of this year, compared with as few as 20 each year before 2011.

Chiel Seinen, a spokesman for the gas consortium known as NAM, said there were at least 1,800 natural faults in the region’s subsoil.

“These faults are seen as a mechanism to induce earthquakes,” he said.

The findings in the Netherlands parallel the anxiety about hydraulic fracturing technology in the United States, where several states have halted drilling temporarily, though more commonly out of fear that chemicals used in the process may pollute water sources.

This month, the New York State Assembly voted to block so-called fracking, the process in which water is blasted through rock at high pressure to extract gas, until 2015, requiring further study on its environmental impact.
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