NOSO On the site old ballast stones are used
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 20:01
Unrest has arisen among residents of a neighborhood in Apeldoorn because of work that has been carried out in front of their door for six months. Rail manager ProRail and BAM work there with so-called ballast stones, which release the harmful quartz dust. No permit has been applied for for the work, says the municipality of Apeldoorn.
Inhaling large amounts of quartz dust can cause serious lung disease and cancer. At a residents’ meeting last night, ProRail apologized for the state of affairs and announced an investigation.
Lots of dust
Ballast stones are used under the track to hold sleepers in place. ProRail will replace them in certain places and have the work carried out by construction company BAM. The stones will be temporarily dumped on a vacant lot in the Kanaal Zuid district of Apeldoorn.
The stones have been worked on the site since March, which releases a lot of dust. The dust settles on houses, in gardens and on cars. Concerned residents raised the alarm about this with ProRail and the municipality. In response to this, a residents’ meeting was organized in a community center last night, at which ProRail was also present. The Stentor wrote about it.
The rail management company apologized and acknowledged that the protocols have not been properly implemented in recent times. For example, this type of stone must be sprayed when working with it, which was not done in this case. “That didn’t go well,” said a ProRail spokesperson, also on behalf of construction group BAM, which was not at the residents’ meeting. It has been spraying for the past few days.
ProRail says that research indicates that the health risks of ballast stones are nil. But the company admits that the existing research mainly focuses on employees on the track, and not on residents living near a warehouse. “This here in Apeldoorn is a unique situation. A large amount of ballast, close to the houses and for a longer period. That is why we are now going to do extra research.”
Jacob de Boer, emeritus professor of environmental chemistry and toxicology, is not convinced. “If you leave ballast stones there is little risk,” he says. “But you shouldn’t dump it near houses. Because a lot of dust is indeed released during dumping. That dust is harmful.”
The municipality of Apeldoorn, responsible for the environment and enforcement, says when asked that no permit has been applied for for the storage of the ballast stones on the site in question, while this is mandatory in this case. According to a spokesman, the municipality will talk to BAM and ProRail about the situation that has arisen. The stones will be removed.
“But we are now focusing first on questions from local residents and on contact with them,” says the spokesperson. “We feel their concerns.”