Defense Dept toxic paint issue hits Mali

Toxic chromium paint was released during maintenance on an Apache helicopter in Mali. Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of Defense notified the Chamber that the carcinogenic paint pigments were released during the sanding of the rotor blades.

Hennis stated that the staff were not at risk because they were wearing protective clothing and masks. However, the particles remained in the hangar, which has not extraction system, which means that other personnel could possibly have been in contact with the carcinogenic particles. The working conditions service calls the risks limited, Hennis wrote to the Second Chamber.

The maintenance work is normally done by a specialized team. But the paint on the helicopter had to be touched up in Mali as parts of the rotor blades were worn off to the metal, Hennis said. From now on the maintenance in Mali will be done at a different location. The hangar in question has been cleaned.

The Ministry of Defense has been dealing with issues regarding this carcinogenic chromium paint for some time. I December last year, 1,250 (former) defense employees had already reported at a special reporting point for people who worked with the carcinogenic paint. More than 350 of them suffer from medical problems.