The defence ministry has appointed a senior official to head the task force investigating the use of cancer-causing paint at a Twente airbase who for years was in charge of the unit and ignored complaints, current affairs show EenVandaag reported.
Freek Groen was a senior official at the air base from 1984 to 1992 and was responsible for the hanger where fighter jets were painted with paint containing Chromium 6, which is highly toxic.
Former staff say they are astonished that Groen has been put in charge of the task force heading up the investigation, EenVandaag reported.
Labour inspectorate reports show the ventilation in the hanger was inadequate but that no action was taken despite several warnings.
The reports also show that armed forces chiefs thought it was too expensive to improve working conditions in the hanger. Freek Groen ‘should have been banging his fist on the table of the airbase commander,’ one former defence ministry worker said.
MPs have also been shocked by Groen’s appointment as task force chief. ‘It is crucial the leader of this task force is completely independent,’ D66 MP Wassila Hachichi said.
The defence ministry told EenVandaag in a reaction that Groen is ‘an experienced airforce commodore’. The task force is ‘leading the process rather than investigating itself and will have no influence on the independent research.’
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 earlier this year.
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