Professor Tom Posts, who has spent years researching the social and psychological consequences of earthquakes at the University of Groningen, says that in 2016 he was intimidated by a staff member of the National Coordinator Groningen (NCG). This was not just anyone, but a former VVD Spin doctor Henri Kruithof, who worked as a consultant for the NCG in The Hague. Postmes came to The Hague to discuss the results of his research into the psychological well-being of the Groningen people before making it public.
The conversation was about the physical safety of the buildings in Groningen and safety as people experience it. According to Postmes, “about 50 percent” of Groningen residents feel insecure. Many people suffer from health problems as a result. “I have the impression that I should have written the results differently,” he told the inquiry. According to Postmes, Kruithof wanted him to write that safety was something quite different from what was “between the ears” of the Groningers.
Posts said Kruithof acted “physically intimidating”, under oath on Friday while being questioned by the Parliamentary Inquiry into the gas extraction in Groningen. “He stood over me like an alpha monkey and said, ‘You must know one thing very well. Groningen is safe.'” Postmes says he refined his script a bit, but didn’t fundamentally change it. He told Kruithof via email afterwards that he was not satisfied with the transaction, and also complained to the then NCG, Hans Alders.
Kruithof, when asked to respond, says he can no longer remember the incident. “It’s been six years.” He remembers meeting Postmes once, but “I don’t remember the meeting being so traumatic.”
Postmes has since halted the search, feeling helpless and frustrated that not much has been done with the results. He suggests an “integrated approach” in which people are asked from door to door: What happened here? So that a tailored approach can be devised to improve the psychological state of the Groningen population.
This article is also part of our live blog: Anne-Marie Height: ‘The victim has no chance now that the government has remedied the damage’
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