Waterschap Vechtstromen is 100 percent owner of the pure water factory NieuWater BV in Nieuw-Amsterdam, Drenthe. The ultra-clean water produced there is sold to NAM for oil extraction in Schoonebeek. This involves 3 million liters a day, which is brought into the ground as steam to get the oil back up in liquid form. The oil is separated above ground and the remaining chemical waste water goes into the ground in Twente.
A small part of the board of the Vechtstromen Water Board wants the supply of pure water to NAM to be suspended until it is clear whether there are alternatives for processing the wastewater.
Erik Jan Meijboom of 50Plus is one of them and Ton Schoo of the Elderly Party also wants that. Schoo and Meijboom do not find it ethically and morally justifiable that the water board is a direct partner of NAM and operates in the opposite direction to its task.
From dirty to clean and not the other way around
“The task of the water board is to turn dirty water into clean water and we are also successfully doing this on a large scale. Except for the enormous amount of water that comes from NAM. We have a strange relationship with NAM, because we supply that water itself.” Meijboom thinks it is a shame that this is happening, “because it really shouldn’t be. We first have to see what we are doing with the water, before we make it dirty.”
The toxic water goes from the oil extraction to wells in Twente via a transport pipeline. There it ended up in old empty gas fields under Mander, Tubbergen, Ootmarsum, and Oldenzaal. There is a distribution point in Rossum, where the injection well was found to be cracked after years of pumping water and was then hermetically sealed remarkably quickly. The NAM is working on a final report, a second opinion is no longer possible.
“A majority of the House wants it to stop, the province of Overijssel and seven municipalities in Twente where the waste water is dumped also want it to stop. It cannot be the case that we as a water board just keep helping to clean the Twente soil every day with three million liters. to pollute? In my eyes, that cannot continue.”
Erik Jan Meijboom is not only a water board director, he was a member of the Research Council for Government Integrity until five years ago. He believes that his water board should consider various aspects of its commitment to NAM.
The polluter pays, that is how it is arranged in the Netherlands. The only exception to this is the NAM.
“The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij does not have to clean its polluted water and it does not have to pay for it. Being the only one, that is a very interesting position.” The Elderly Party and 50Plus and a number of other parties would like the supply of water to NAM to stop until a purification technique has been chosen to process the wastewater.
Another aspect that Meijboom discusses are the so-called secret documents accompanying the agreement on the supply of that water. The executive board has not yet released certain underlying documents that were part of the negotiations about the contract, while the water board should have to in view of its public task.
“The water board earns a lot of money with this, while we have also taken out a loan of 10 million euros. Those documents describe how we will recoup the money for that loan from the Nederlandse Waterschapsbank. That contract is still largely secret and I think that’s a shame. I think that secrecy could be broken.”
Meijboom does not seem to be heard by the major parties in the water board board, although the connection between the NAM and the Vechtstromen water board is described as a precarious issue. But as far as Erik Jan Meijboom and colleague Ton Schoo want to go, the major parties certainly do not want that. Jan Nicolai is party chairman of the most important party in the water board, Water Naturally. Nicolai already called Meijboom a populist.
The board meeting of the Vechtstromen water board is next Wednesday evening, February 16.