Defense apologizes for carcinogenic Chromium 6 scandal

Barbara Visser
Barbara Visser. Photo: Rijksoverheid / Wikimedia Commons

On Monday State Secretary Barbara Visser of Defense apologized for the fact that Defense employees were insufficiently protected against the health consequences of working with carcinogenic in the period 1984 to 2006. "Defense has failed", she said while presenting the results of a major investigation by the RIVM. "I am sorry.", NOS repots. 

The RIVM concluded that Defense is responsible for the serious health complaints that employees of five NATO depots suffered by working with chromium 6. According to the public health institute, Defense knew about the harmful effects of this substance, but did not share this knowledge with employees or with the Ministry doctors. The Ministry also did not provide a safe work place or adequate protective equipment. The results of this investigation leaked on Friday.

The Ministry of Defense is now offering the victims and their surviving relatives compensation. The amount of this compensation ranges between 5 thousand and 40 thousand euros, depending on the severity of the condition. "I realize that no amount can make up for the suffering", Visser said, according to the broadcaster. "This is to show that we recognize our mistakes."

The compensation only applies to Defense employees or ex-employees who sustained a disease that, according to the RIVM research, can be linked to working with chromium 6, such as lung cancer and various other lung diseases. Visser also acknowledged that the compensation does not prevent people from submitting separate personal injury claims against the Defense organization. 

According to the State Secretary, it happens too often that Defense doesn't adequately protect the safety of its employees. "That can-do mentality is beautiful, but things have to change."

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