Several (former) employees at the asylum seekers centre in Ter Apel do not agree with an investigation’s conclusions about health problems among staff.
RTV Drenthe reports that a commission determined earlier this week that most of the health issues reported by staff were caused by poor ventilation and lighting inside several buildings. Some current and former employees do not accept that explanation, particularly those who are still experiencing health problems.
Former guard Mart Goes, who worked at the centre between 2006 and 2012, continues to suffer from neurological issues. “An earlier investigation determined that the soil was contaminated, but that was not included in this conclusion. It doesn’t make sense”, he says. Goes says he personally knows dozens of other people who believe that there is another explanation for the health issues.
Many on sick leave
The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) called for an investigation, led by Joop Atsma, into what was causing so many employees to go on sick leave. The commission established that employees were suffering from symptoms ranging from bloody noses to high blood pressure.
The complaints were exacerbated by the work load in the centre, especially in 2015 and 2016 when the number of asylum seekers arriving in the Netherlands peaked and many employees were uncertain about whether their contracts would be extended.
The commission conducted a soil analysis and stated that there was no evidence of hazardous contamination in the soil, the ground water, surface water, or exposure to radioactivity.
According to COA board member Peter Siebers, the majority of the staff members are relieved that the cause of their symptoms has been identified. Siebers understands that current and former staff experiencing other symptoms are sceptical about the report. “They can contact the commission if they have any questions”, he says.
Photo courtesy of Ghaith Shuraiki