Swiss geologist acquitted after quakes

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A Swiss court on Monday cleared Markus Haering of causing earthquakes in Basel.

Geneva -- A Swiss court on Monday cleared a geologist who was blamed for triggering earthquakes during underground soundings for a geothermal heating and power plant in the northern city of Basel.

Swiss authorities had pressed charges including damage to property against the head of the firm Geothermal Explorer, Markus Haering, following a series of tremors measuring up to 3.4 on the Richter scale in 2006 and 2007.

However, a regional criminal court acquitted the 57-year-old on Monday following a week-long trial, saying the defendant had not hidden the risks and had listened to scientific advice, the Swiss news agency ATS reported.

Switzerland's seismological institute had blamed the tremors on soundings for the country's first geothermal power plant, the Deep Heat Mining project, which involved injecting pressurised water more than 5,000 metres (three miles) underground.

The quakes shook parts of northern Switzerland and nearby eastern France, prompting a storm of protests from local officials on both sides of the border who called for the project to be stopped.

Local authorities later dropped the pioneering plan to heat some 2,700 homes and provide electricity for 10,000 more in Basel.

AFP / Expatica

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