Expatica news

Report praises response to Dutch boiler tragedy

20 April 2004

AMSTERDAM — A report has praised the response of authorities in the town Geertruidenberg to the Amercentrale power plant boiler accident last year that led to the deaths of five maintenance workers.

The Institute for Safety and Crisis Management (COT) said on Tuesday the town reacted appropriately after scaffolding inside the boiler collapsed, trapping eight men among a mass of metal piping and wooden planks on the night of 27 September 2003.

The men were cleaning the inside of the power plant boiler in the southern town of Geertruidenberg when the accident occurred. Three men were pulled from the wreckage alive, but five others were killed.

Soon after the accident occurred, inquiries started focusing on whether the maintenance work was being rushed and whether the wrong type of scaffolding was used.

The deceased victims were two US nationals and three Rotterdam residents of Turkish descent. Two Americans and a man of Turkish descent survived.

The criminal investigation into the accident will probably be concluded at the end of next month, it was also announced on Tuesday. The boiler will be put back into operation on 21 June, a spokesman for energy company Essent said.

Despite praising the response of the Geertruidenberg authorities, the COT report said the public prosecution could have communicated with greater sensitivity with the relatives of the victims.

A COT spokesman explained that the criticism referred to the commotion which erupted among Turkish relatives when informed that an autopsy had been performed on one of the deceased men against their wishes.

COT also criticised Geertruidenberg for the confusion around the tragedy when it was not clearly spelled out after several days whether work was being conducted to rescue survivors or recover their bodies.

The rescue and recovery team decided after a day and a half to clear the boiler from top to bottom, meaning that it would take about seven days before the victims’ bodies could be recovered.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news