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Dutch maker says corroded beam caused Ohio fairground accident

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch maker of the fairground attraction which malfunctioned at a fair in Ohio in the US last month says the accident was due to a seriously corroded support beam.

In a letter published on the KMG Facebook page, product manager Albert Kroon says: ‘it was determined that excessive corrosion on the interior of the support beam dangerously reduced the beam’s thickness over the years.’

An 18-year-old youth was killed and seven people injured when the gondola flew off at high speed. The company has now developed an ‘inspection protocol’ to allow other rides of a similar type made by the Dutch firm to be checked out and reopened.

Two of the rides are in the Netherlands. The ride at the Ohio fair was 18 years old, the company said. The Fire Ball, sold by the company under the name Afterburner, is a mechanical ride that swings passengers up to 20 metres into the air while spinning at 15 revolutions per minute, according to the company’s website. (DutchNews)

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Ethnic minority unemployment falls but still far outstrips native Dutch

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The unemployment rate among people with a ‘non-western’ background fell by over three percentage points from its peak in 2014 to 13.2% last year, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

However, the jobless rate remains higher among second generation immigrants, falling from a peak of 17.8% in 2014 to 14.3% last year, the CBS said. Under first-generation non-western immigrants the jobless rate is 12.5%.

The Netherlands official jobless rate has recently fallen to just below 5%. The CBS says the difference between first and second generation immigrants is largely due to age, because the unemployment rate among youngsters in general is higher than for older adults.

However, a larger percentage of second-generation immigrants have higher school-leaving qualifications than their parents, the organisation points out. In terms of labour market participation, over 60% of second generation immigrants have some form of work, compared with 66% of the native Dutch.

The figures follow International Labour Organisation guidelines and cover people aged 15 to75 who don’t have a paid job but have recently looked for work and are immediately available.

Discrimination

Research by the government’s socio-cultural advisory body SCP published last December shows that non-western migrants a are more likely than the native Dutch to have a temporary or flexible contract.

This is partly due to lower levels of education and limited work experience. ‘But other factors are also an issue,’ researcher Willem Huijnk said at the time. ‘These include different social networks, cultural competencies and discrimination by employers.’

At the same time, the number of second-generation ethnic minority immigrants with a top level job has gone up to 23%, compared with 15% at the beginning of this century, the SCP research showed.

The CBS defines non-western immigrants as people from Africa, Asia, Turkey and South America, excluding the Japanese and Indonesians. (DutchNews)

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GenX in Zuid Holland tap water does not break legal limit: RIVM

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The concentrations of the chemical GenX in tap water in Zuid Holland remains under the legal limits, the public health institute RIVM said on Friday.

However, any increase in the amount of GenX being discharged into the rivers will lead to the legal limit being broken, the RIVM said, adding that this means ‘close monitoring is necessary’.

In July the AD published research showing the chemical is present in tap water in at least six places in Zuid-Holland province, where a factory using the chemical is located. GenX is used by the Chemours chemical plant in Dordrecht for the production of the non-stick substance teflon.

The company has a permit to pump 6,400 kilos of waste water containing GenX into the river but moves are underway to reduce the discharge to 2,000 kilos and then a stop altogether.

In May it emerged that blood tests on people living close to the former DuPont chemical plant showed that some have too much of another toxic chemical, C8, in their blood. C8 was used in the production of Telfon until 2012 when it was replaced by GenX.  (DutchNews)

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Royal Bank of Scotland picks Amsterdam as post Brexit EU trading hub

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Royal Bank of Scotland has picked Amsterdam as its post-Brexit European Union trading hub and will deliver 150 jobs in the Dutch capital, chief executive Ross McEwan said on Friday.

Speaking at the presentation of the bank’s second quarter results, McEwan said the bank will built up its minor Amsterdam unit so that its trading division NatWest Markets can continue operating after Brexit.

RBS needs an EU base to maintain access to the EU’s single market when London loses passporting rights after Britain quits the EU.  The bank is already in ‘advanced talks’ on setting up the new European operation in the Netherlands, bank officials said.

RBS has a banking licence in the Netherlands, which is part of its inheritance from the abortive takeover of ABN Amro 10 years ago.

However, RBS closed its offices in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district at the beginning of this year and has just a small operation in the city centre. (DutchNews)

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Six women, three men added to Dutch terror list; bank accounts frozen

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Nine more Dutch nationals, including six women, are being added to the national terrorism list because of their potential involvement in terrorist offences in Iraq and Syria, foreign minister Bert Koenders has told parliament.

Inclusion on the list means the suspects can no longer access their bank accounts, to head off the risk of them financing acts of terrorism from the Netherlands. They are also stopped from claiming any form of social security benefit or student loans.

The list is now made up of 121 people, including 28 women, and three organisations. In January 2016, the list had just 36 names. The Dutch security service says women are playing an increasingly important role in supporting IS and its attempts to hold together the caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

They are often brought in to recruit more women for the terrorist organisation or are deployed as nurses, the ministry said. Meanwhile, the Telegraaf reports that he Dutch intelligence services are searching for traces of DNA from jihadists who travelled from the Netherlands to Syria and Iraq.

Genetic material from hair or skin on weapons or shrapnel means there is a greater chance they can be convicted when the return to the Netherlands, the paper said. (DutchNews)

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Baby’s body found in rubbish bag

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Passers-by have found the body of a baby in rubbish bag between plants close to Rotterdam’s Luxor theatre.

The bag had been left in a flower pot on the Antoine Platekade in Rotterdam Zuid, near the theatre and the law courts. No further details about the baby have yet been given by police, who have now sealed off the area and begun an investigation.

One eyewitness to the find said he noticed the bag on Wednesday because it was surrounded by flies, broadcaster NOS said. (DutchNews)

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Road safety body urges minister to up fines for using smartphone while driving

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Road safety group Veilig Verkeer Nederland has written to acting justice minister Stef Blok urging him to increase the punishment for using a smartphone while driving.

The minister said at the end of last month he is working on new legislation to increase the penalties for people involved in serious traffic offences which includes changes to the official definition of ‘reckless behaviour’.

Although drunk driving and speeding can be considered reckless behaviour, higher courts rarely accept them as such when handing out punishments. VVN said on Wednesday that it considers drunk driving, driving at very high speeds and using smartphones to be a form of reckless driving.

Fines for drunk driving currently begin at €300 while using a smartphone will lead to a fine of €230. Research by national statistics office CBS earlier this year showed that one in 10 motorists’ sends smartphone messages while driving without having a hands-free set.

Around 600 fatal or serious incidents a year in the Netherlands are linked to people making calls or using social media behind the wheel. The VVN is currently working with phone firm KPN on developing a smartphone app which will stop phones being used by cyclists. (DutchNews)

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Leeuwarden hospital closes children’s wards after hospital bug outbreak

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Leeuwarden’s main hospital has closed down its specialist neonatal and child medicine wards after the so-called hospital bug or MRSA virus was identified.

Three children have picked up the bug and are being treated in quarantine, news agency ANP said. The hospital is now trying to trace the source of the infection and is taking extra hygiene measures.

MRSA is a super bug, resistant to some commonly used antibiotics, and is responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans. Elderly people and babies with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the virus. (DutchNews)

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Childminder jailed for four years for shaking baby to death

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A childminder from the Drenthe town of Assen has been jailed for four years for shaking a baby in her charge to death last year.

The court ruled that the woman had acted deliberately and that she should have known babies can die if shaken too hard.

The public prosecution department had called for a six year jail term. The woman had admitted shaking the one-year-old child after it cried continually for 45 minutes. She also admitted to placing the baby, a girl, in bed and after checking on her later, found she was unconscious.

The baby died two days later in hospital. After telling her husband what had happened, the perpetrator was persuaded to hand herself over to the police. The baby and her brother were looked after by the woman twice a week. (DutchNews)

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Dutch food safety board issues urgent warning over a batch of eggs

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch food and product safety board NVWA has issued an urgent warning to consumers not to eat eggs from a particular farm, as the fipronil scandal spreads.

Such high concentrations of the pesticide have been found in eggs numbered X-NL-40155XX that they form an ‘acute danger’ to human health, the NVWA said. The XX represents any numbers.

The chemical, used to treat lice and ticks, has been found in high concentrations in other eggs but not so much as to pose a danger to health. However, children should avoid all contaminated eggs, the NVWA said.

Utrecht University toxicologist Martin van den Berg told broadcaster NOS that most of the eggs are only dangerous ‘if you eat them every day throughout your life.’ He said he did not recommend slaughtering all birds on the farms where fipronil has been found because it exits the system after five to six weeks.

Instead, the barns should be thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of the chemical, he said.

Banned

Last Monday, the NVWA shut down seven poultry farms after fipronil was found in samples of eggs.

The chemical is classed as a ‘moderately hazardous pesticide’ by the World Health Organisation. In the Netherlands it is banned in the poultry sector. The NVWA has since closed 180 poultry farms which are clients of a Gelderland company called Chickfriend that deals with outbreaks of lice.

According to broadcaster NOS, the company is relatively new and, according to Erik Hubers of farming organisation LTO, had mixed fipronil into menthol, eucalyptus and other oils to kill lice.

Invoices

Only the oils appeared on the invoices and the farmer concerned were not aware they were using a banned substance, Hubers said. Chickfriend has not responded to requests for information. The company’s website was offline on Tuesday morning. (DutchNews)

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