‘Defence ministry knew about carcinogenic paint for 15 years’

The defence ministry has known for 15 years that soldiers were being exposed to highly carcinogenic paints, despite government assurances to the contrary, the Volkskrant says on Thursday.

The Volkskrant says reports drawn up on behalf of the army in 1999 and 2002 show defence ministry workers who maintained US tanks and planes stationed in the Netherlands were exposed to high levels of toxic Chromium 6.

Defence minister Jeanine Hennis told MPs in June there was nothing to suggest workers were being exposed to high concentrations of dangerous chemicals.


That statement followed complaints from soldiers that they may have been made ill by the camouflage paint used in the maintenance of US tanks and jet fighters at five bases in the border regions.

The reports in the hands of the Volkskrant show the base paint used on military equipment contained up to eight times more toxic Chromium 6 than was normal.

More than 100 former defence workers have so far come forward to make a claim against the ministry. They are suffering from cancers and auto-immune diseases and want compensation, the Volkskrant said.

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