Lethal cargo

Published: Tuesday 15 December 1998

THE Dutch government inspectors have played down the health risks posed by chemicals released into an Amsterdam suburb following the 1992 crash of an El Al cargo plane. But the inspectors admit that some questions cannot be answered because documents detailing the plane's cargo are incomplete. Claims of a cover up have plagued Dutch politicians and accident investigators since the Boeing 747 crashed into an apartment block six years ago killing 50 people.

In recent months, the Israeli government has confirmed that the cargo included 190 litres of dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMP). A report by the Government Inspectorate for Health and the Environment (RIVM), released to Dutch parliament, said the chemical should have b roken down into non- hazardous constituents by now. The inspectors accepted that DMP may have caused some short-term irritation of eyes and one or two extra cases of cancer for every 10,000 people exposed to the fire. But this increased incidence falls below the maximum risk allowed under Dutch environmental policy, the report said.

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