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MADRID: Two businessmen went on trial Monday over their involvement in a large offshore gas storage project blamed for causing hundreds of small earthquakes off Spain's eastern coast in 2013.

Operations at the plant, a giant underwater storage facility in the Gulf of Valencia, were suspended in September 2013, just months after it opened, following several hundred quakes which experts said were likely linked to the gas pumping process. Known as Project Castor, the plant was built to store gas in a depleted oil reservoir 1.7 kilometres (one mile) under the Mediterranean which would have been sent to Spain's national grid by pipeline. The trial opened on Monday at a court in the Valencia region, with the pair accused of "crimes against the environment" linked to the absence of exploratory studies on seismic activity in the area.

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