On 27th January of this year there was a gas explosion on Jan van der Heijdenstraat in which several residents were injured, homes were seriously damaged, some beyond repair, and personal possessions lost. The accident had a huge impact and the Municipal Executive was pleased to see the generous support offered by many and provided in various ways to the affected residents. The Municipal Executive too, feels for the residents and in the aftermath of the gas explosion therefore offered advice and support in various forms to those residents who wanted to have that at the time, including temporary housing.

In its role as a regulatory authority whose remit includes the safety of the Netherlands’ gas network, the State Supervision of Mines inspectorate (SodM) investigated the cause of the explosion. This investigation also covered the actions of the network managers concerned because they are legally responsible for the construction, maintenance and management of the gas network. In our city Stedin is the network manager responsible. The results of the SodM investigation were presented Thursday 6th of June.

Results of the SodM investigation

The gas explosion on Jan van der Heijdenstraat was caused by the release of gas through a fracture in the side of an underground cast iron gas distribution pipe approximately 1.5 metres in front of the facade of the apartment complex. The leak caused gas to accumulate in the crawl space under the affected properties which was then ignited due to an unknown cause, resulting in an explosion.

Based on its findings SodM made various recommendations in its report. The main recommendation SodM made to all network managers in the Netherlands is to speed up the replacement of the grey cast iron gas pipes. SodM further stated in its report that network managers should be more proactive in searching for possible leaks in susceptible pipes.

Public Prosecution Service Decision

Further to the gas explosion on Jan van der Heijdenstraat the Public Prosecution Service (OM) carried out its own criminal investigation in parallel with the SodM study, during which SodM shared its own findings with the OM. The Public Prosecution Service announced on the 6th of June that it sees no reason to begin criminal proceedings because no criminal offence was established during its own investigation.

Response of the Municipal Executive

When an event with a huge impact takes place, like the gas explosion on Jan van der Heijdenstraat, it is important that a thorough investigation is carried out. Because the safety of residents is paramount. The Executive has taken cognisance of the report’s findings and recommendations. The Municipal Executive understands that Stedin intends to adopt all the SodM recommendations in full and as quickly as possible. Stedin has further stated that it will support the residents concerned in the process of settling claims, including financially if necessary.

Informing residents

The residents of the 9 worst hit homes were informed on the 6th of June of the results of both the OM and SodM studies by the Public Prosecution Service (OM), SodM and Stedin at the Laak district municipal offices. Mayor Pauline Krikke and deputy mayor Liesbeth van Tongeren were present representing the Municipal Executive and afterwards also spoke to the residents.

The publication of the SodM report does not mean that the terrible incident on 27th January on Jan van der Heijdenstraat is now closed. The Executive will therefore remain in contact with the residents of the 9 worst affected homes in particular, who will continue to be supported during this difficult period.

Other city residents will undoubtedly have their own questions. Stedin has therefore provided extensive information on its website: www.stedin.net/janvanderheijdenstraat. Residents can also phone Stedin on (010) 8923128 or send an e-mail to klachtenteam@stedin.net. City residents with questions can also call 14070 or send an e-mail to gasleidingen@denhaag.nl