Van Dijk: Ministry of Defence leaves victims of hazardous substances out to dry

1 June 2021

Van Dijk: Ministry of Defence leaves victims of hazardous substances out to dry

Foto: SP / pxhere.com

In the past decades, hundreds of thousands of people in the military have had to work with hazardous substances without protection. As a result, many of them are currently seriously ill or deceased. 'Chromium-6' is a well-known example, but the military works with 5000 hazardous substances, of which no fewer than 500 are carcinogenic. For years, employees and their relatives have been engaged in a political and legal battle against the government: for recognition and fair treatment, yet they have been opposed at every turn. The RIVM, on monday, released a report on working with toxic substances, which shows that many more people have been exposed to the substances. At the same time the cabinet announced what the compensation scheme for victims should look like.

SP member of parliament, Jasper van Dijk, has nothing but contempt for the cabinet's proposal: 'It falls short because it is not clear when you are or are not entitled to compensation with this arrangement. It is clear, however, that you are not eligible if the RIVM does not recognise that your illness relates to the job. The RIVM only recognizes a small number of affectations as being a result of Chromium-6. This will lead to more gruelling legal procedures. After the benefits scandal, this dossier was an opportunity to show that the government has learned from its mistakes – by generously compensating all victims. However, the cabinet again chooses the cheapest option, hoping to have their cake and eat it too. Thousands of people are left behind in misery and uncertainty as a result.'

The SP report 'Leave no stone unturned' describes the struggle of (former) employees and surviving relatives. The SP has also made recommendations for fair treatment of the victims. Van Dijk: 'As far as the SP is concerned, there will be a compensation fund that all employees who have worked with hazardous substances can claim. Whether you are currently sick or not. With clear, short procedures and no legal wrangling about which illness is or is not on the list and whether you have or have not worked long enough in dangerous conditions. This discourages people tremendously from applying, on top of which a lot of people are already tired of fighting. It seems as if nothing has been learned from the benefits affair, in which victims were also crushed without mercy.'

Van Dijk now first seeks to organize a hearing with the victims of hazardous substances. After decades of being duped by the defence force, it is important that they can make their voices heard.

You are here