A Peek Into Several European Countries
By: Tiffany Murray
Spain’s government may be facing a 1.3 billion euro (1.1 billion dollars) compensation bill if it is made to close an off-shore gas storage plant. This plant has been linked to over 500 minor earthquakes on the Mediterranean coast over the last few weeks. The area is not known for having seismic activity and prosecutors are investigating if whether the Spanish authorities could be held responsible for negligence. It has recently emerged that there was research warning that potential earthquakes could take place that was ignored by authorities before the plant was approved. The minor earthquakes have been blamed on the injection of gas into a depleted oil reserve over a mile under the sea bed. Spain’s minister for industry, Jose Manuel Soria, admitted that there was a high probability that there was a relationship between the injections of gas and the earthquakes that were occurring. Just two months after the plant began their operations, and before it was fully operational, the government ordered the Spanish firm Escal UGS to shut down. Escal UGS is the majority owner and the operator of the EU-backed facility. Jose Manuel Soria went on to explain that the shutdown will remain in effect until there is an absolute guarantee that the operation will be 100 percent safe for the entire population. Investigations are looking into seeing if the plant could ever be operated safely. The residents in the affected zone are demanding answers and thousands took to the streets last Sunday in a protest that called for the permanent closure of the plant. Even though there has been no permanent damage caused by the earthquakes, the residents have had many sleepless nights as the minor quakes took place. Spain’s government may have to pay the bill if the plant is ordered to permanently shut down.