Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Wassila Hachchi of the democratic D66 party wants answers from Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk about reports in the media that Saba’s volcano might become active again.
Hachchi submitted no less than 19 written questions to Plasterk on Tuesday following an article in Saturday’s science section in de Volkskrant newspaper in which volcanologists Piet Vroon of Free University in Amsterdam and Manfred van Bergen of Utrecht University stated that there might be indications that the Mt. Scenery could become active considering the increase in seismic activity. According to Vroon and Van Bergen, who visited Saba in the summer of 2014, the seismic equipment on the island had not been operational for months. Saba authorities have denied this and stated on Monday that the seismometer in St. John’s was fully operational.
Member of Parliament (MP) Hachchi wanted to know if Plasterk shared the concerns of Island Governor Jonathan Johnson about the possible volcanic threat, as was stated in de Volkskrant article. “Are you also of the opinion that it is of great importance to have a timely eye for the possible risks?” asked Hachchi. Hachchi wanted to know what was being done about making sure that there was sufficient operational seismic equipment on the island and when a complete monitoring system on the island would be functional.
“How will you ensure that other natural risks, the combination of very steep, instable hills and regularly recurring slides and heavy rains, will be better monitored? Which department in the Netherlands has the final responsibility to ensure safety in Saba?”
Hachchi also inquired about the communication between the involved departments, the island government and the Netherlands on safety issues. She asked about the safety protocol for possible volcano danger, how this protocol was being kept up-to-date and how it was tested in practice.
The MP wanted to know up to what level the infrastructure on the island was volcano-proof, how the communication between the local emergency services was arranged and who had the authority in case of an acute danger. “When will the evacuation plan be implemented in case of an imminent volcano eruption? In what way will this take place? How much time does it take to send support to Saba in case of acute safety risks? Does the Netherlands have partnerships in the region that can respond more quickly to offer support?” Hachchi concluded her questions.
A press release of the Saba Government issued on Monday stated that there was an evacuation plan that was tested in 2012, in conjunction with the Dutch military. The issue of the seismic equipment, collection of data and monitoring of activity will be discussed in a meeting with Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute KNMI is scheduled for this week, said Governor Johnson who is in charge of the local disaster management organisation.