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FAQ's fire at Holland Casino (revision - september 22nd 1:10 pm)

Frequently asked questions and answers after the fire at the Holland Casino in Groningen.

Latest news

On Friday 22 September, an inspection of the Holland Casino building has taken place as part of the preparations for demolition. You will be informed when the demolition plan has been finalised.
On Monday 25 September, the construction trailers will be connected to water and electricity services. You may see or hear evidence of these activities.

Holland Casino will perform a zero measurement to determine the current state of the surrounding properties. The residents of these properties have already been informed.

Case Manager

For individual questions that you have not been able to find answers for, please call the City at tel. 14050 or use our contact form. You will be assigned a case manager who will be your contact person at City Hall. The case manager will not take over your problem but will guide you to the right authority or help you to find an answer to your question.

Settlement of Damages

Who should I ask about damages and possible claims?

For questions about damages and claim declarations you should consult your own insurance agent. This also applies to homeowners who let rooms. Students who have not insured their rooms can claim damages through the insurance of the building in which the rented room is located. For damages, questions or declarations, first contact your own insurance agent. Notifications of damages should also be sent along to the damage valuation advisor of the casino via: r.kruithof@vonrethexpertise.nl. If you are not insured then also send an email to the insurer of the casino via the above email address. Should you encounter any problems in regard to insurance then contact the City at tel. 14050.

Can I submit an expense declaration for accommodations elsewhere?

You can do this through your own insurance agent. Here, too, should you encounter any problems you can call the City at tel. 14050.

Traffic

Businesses/houses on the Gedempte Kattendiep from the City Hotel to the Schuitendiep can be reached from the Schuitendiep. Businesses/houses on the Gedempte Kattendiep from the City Hotel in the direction of the Gedempte Zuiderdiep and users of the parking garage in the Kleine Peperstraat can follow the temporarily route. Signs will guide traffic from the Schuitendiep WZ.

This route passes over the Steentilbrug, through Damstediep, Europaweg, Griffeweg, Trompsingel, Zuiderpark, Hereplein, Herestraat, Gedempte Zuiderdiep. Traffic coming out the parking garage Kleine Peperstraat follows the route through Ged. Kattendiep to the Oosterstraat,  Grote Markt, Gelkingestraat, Ged. Zuiderdiep to the Rademarkt.

Commercial traffic for the Oosterstraat/Gelkingestraat can get there through Hereplein, Herestraat, the bus lane of the Ged. Zuiderdiep to the Oosterstraat.
The trafficsigns in the Herestraat and the Gedempte Zuiderdiep have been altered to fit the temporary situation. The measures will be in effect as long as the Kattendiep in front of the casino is blocked.
 

Local Residents

Have all the people from the shelter gone home again?

All the residents have gone home again, the area has been given the all clear.

How many dwellings had to be evacuated?

These were a few dozen houses on the Gedempte Kattendiep, Schuitendiep, Pelsterhof, Achter de Muur and a part of the Pepergasthuis.

How has the City organised communication with the people involved?

Some of the people who were in shelters were informed about the situation by Mayor Den Oudsten on the day after the fire. More information sessions have been scheduled for residents. We keep in touch with residents and businesses through various channels of communication.

What's the best way to clean my house?

Air your house by opening the windows and doors. You can turn on your ventilation system again. If for example your curtains have an unpleasant smell you can wash them. The best way to clean away soot is with water and liquid green soap. You can also ask for a professional cleaning service. Contact your casemanager for more information (see top of this page).

Did the fire affect the ventilation system in my house (heat exchanger)?

Do you live in the immediate vicinity of the fire or was your home inundated with smoke for a longer period of time? And are you concerned about the functioning of your ventilation system as a result of the fire? You can have it checked out by the company that installed it (if you are a home owner), or get in touch with the owner of the building if you rent (the housing cooperative or landlord).

Health & safety

Was asbestos released during this fire?

During the extinguishing of the fire bits and pieces of material containing asbestos were released by the water for putting out the fire. In the case of the Casino we are dealing with firmly-bound asbestos. One of its properties is that fewer fibres are released than with the other type, loosely-bound asbestos. Asbestos fibres may also be spread by the smoke. It is known that inhaling the air-borne fibres of asbestos can present health risks. Because the level of exposure during the fire was extremely low, particularly when we consider the level of asbestos particles that you inhale on a daily basis, the risk you may have incurred during the fire is negligible. (GGD Groningen)

Was asbestos released during this fire?

During the extinguishing of the fire bits and pieces of material containing asbestos were released by the water for putting out the fire. In the case of the Casino we are dealing with firmly-bound asbestos. One of its properties is that fewer fibres are released than with the other type, loosely-bound asbestos. Asbestos fibres may also be spread by the smoke. It is known that inhaling the air-borne fibres of asbestos can present health risks. Because the level of exposure during the fire was extremely low, particularly when we consider the level of asbestos fibre that you inhale on a daily basis, the risk you may have incurred during the fire is negligibly small. (GGD Groningen)

What are the health risks of asbestos?

Asbestos only poses health risks when free-floating fibres have been inhaled. Air-borne asbestos fibres which have been inhaled can lodge deep in the lungs. Breathing in asbestos can eventually, over a long period of time, lead to lung cancer or mesothelioma (cancer of the tissue lining the lungs and chest wall).

Are their health risks for residents of the area?

It is known that the release of asbestos fibres into the air can pose health risks in the case of inhalation. Because your exposure to free-floating asbestos during the fire was probably extremely low, and we are dealing here with firmly-bound asbestos, the risk to your health because of the fire is negligible.

I’m pregnant. Do I or my unborn child run any extra risks?

No, there is no additional risk for pregnant women. There is no risk to unborn children.

Are children more at risk than adults?

Children are not more sensitive to asbestos fibres. But because of their longer life expectancy, after exposure they will bear the asbestos in their bodies for a longer period of time. That’s why children ultimately have a greater chance of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer after exposure to asbestos. In addition, in certain cases children may have had greater exposure to asbestos fibres because they, for example, have been crawling or playing on the ground. Children also have a higher risk of breathing in asbestos fibres if they play with or around the debris of the fire. For that reason it is important to make sure your child is playing in a clean area.

The people who are cleaning up are wearing protective clothing. Do I also need such protection?

Because the personnel of an asbestos removal company are in direct contact with asbestos almost daily, they need to wear protective clothing. Since your exposure was only slight this protective measure is not necessary.

What happens with asbestos fibres that are inhaled?

Fibres may enter the lungs after they have been breathed in. Some fibres will be exhaled and others expelled by the body. Sometimes fibres remain lodged in the lungs and after many years may cause lung cancer or mesothelioma (cancer of the tissue lining the lungs and chest wall).

Is it dangerous to swallow asbestos fibres?

No. If ingested the asbestos fibres do not enter the lungs but go to the stomach, and from there they will probably not have any dangerous effects. From the stomach the fibres will be expelled from the body.

What should I do if I possibly breathed in some asbestos fibres?

You do not need to do anything. It is not likely that you breathed in a significant dose, if any at all. The chance that you will run any health risk is marginal to none.

Can I get tested to find out whether I breathed in any asbestos fibres?

No, there is no test for this. Asbestos fibres are not visible even in X-rays. Medical investigation is not capable of:

  • finding out the level of exposure to asbestos;
  • determining the health damage of someone who was recently exposed to asbestos;
  • preventing health problems from occurring.

I was exposed to smoke. Did I breath in a larger number of asbestos fibres?

The chance that you inhaled a significant level of asbestos fibres is very low.

Could there be asbestos around the outside of my home?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 29 and 30 August, the area around the casino was checked for asbestos. No asbestos was found in the gardens, or on roof terraces or roofs. This examination was carried out by an expert from an independent research firm. Your garden, roof terrace and/or balcony may be safely used again.

I’ve been coughing a lot, does that mean I inhaled asbestos?

Breathing in asbestos fibres does not cause symptoms such as coughing. You were probably exposed to smoke which irritated your respiratory system. These symptoms usually go away by themselves. If the symptoms persist for a long time, the best thing is to consult your family doctor. People who already had respiratory problems may be more likely to develop such irritation.

Who should I ask if I have questions about my health?

For questions about asbestos and your health you can contact the Department of Medische Milieukunde of the GGD Groningen (tel. 050-3674000). For health problems get in touch with your family doctor.

Parking Garage

The parking is being reinforced to make a safe extraction of the cars in the garage possible. On thursday the 14th of september the vehicles will be hauled out of the parking. They will be brought to the car salvage company "Bergingsbedrijf Poort" situated on the Kerkstraat 53 in Groningen.

Examine car

If you wish to examine your car or remove personal possesions from the vehicle, you can make an appointment with mr. H. Poort (+3150-5565274) of the salvage company. Don't forget to bring your carkeys to the appointment.

Damage

After the salvation of your car, the vehicle will be inspected for damage. How that inspection is done, depends on your own insurance company. If there is little or no damage, owners possibly can get their car back.

What is the status of the cars?

On Thursday 14 September, all but one of the cars were removed from the parking garage and taken away by a salvage company. All the cars were inspected before being removed, and one car was found to have asbestos particles on the roof. This car was packed up securely and will be kept in the garage as a precautionary measure. It is not yet clear when this car will be removed from the garage, or where the asbestos came from.

The parking is being reinforced to make a safe extraction of the cars in the garage possible. On thursday the 14th of september the vehicles will be hauled out of the parking. They will be brought to the car salvage company "Bergingsbedrijf Poort" situated on the Kerkstraat 53 in Groningen.

The parking garage appears to be mostly intact. No cars seem to be affected by flames, but is not yet possible to tell whether smoke, heat and water have damaged the cars.

I own a car in the parking garage, what should I do?

Owners should notify their insurance agents themselves. We also advise all the owners of cars to send an email to r.kruithof@vonrethexpertise.nl. In this email please include the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Licence plate number
  • Make of car

You will receive a message as soon as your car can be released. We have already sent a letter to all known car owners (English and German version).

How and when will be the cars be released?

Part of the construction of the parking garage is not save. This has to be reinforced before cars can pass this point. At this moment we are working on a plan to safely extract the vehicles from the garage. The extraction is expected to take place in the week of the 11th of September. 

The Holland Casino Building

What is going to happen with the building of the casino?

The building will be demolished. This will be done according to standard procedures. A demolition company submits a plan for demolition to the city as part of an application for a demolition licence. This will be evaluated according to the regular procedures. On Friday 15 September, Holland Casino ordered two construction trailers to be installed in the square near the service entrance (Achter de Muur). These trailers will be used as temporary office space for casino staff.

On Friday 22 September, an inspection of the Holland Casino building has taken place as part of the preparations for demolition. You will be informed when the demolition plan has been finalised.
On Monday 25 September, the construction trailers will be connected to water and electricity services. You may see or hear evidence of these activities.

Holland Casino will perform a zero measurement to determine the current state of the surrounding properties. The residents of these properties have already been informed.

Is the building stable?

There is no danger of the sides of the building collapsing. The facade is unstable, that’s why it has been blocked off so that no one can enter. In front of the building containers filled with sand prevent the surroundings from potential dangers.

Why is the firedepartment occasionaly extinguishing flames?

It's normal for a fire this big to smolder a few days. Since the fire started on august the 27th, the firedepartment has returned several times. On wednesday the 6th the fire department has inspected the roof of the building and removed parts of the roof. This makes it easier for water to reach the insides of the building and to extinguish any smoldering remains of the fire.

What will happen with the building?

The building will undergo a controlled demolition. We cannot yet estimate what kind of disturbance this might cause, it is possible that local residents may have to leave their homes temporarily during the demolition. You will be informed more fully about this later.

Will there be an alternative location for the Holland Casino?

This still has to be sorted out, but for the time being it is not on the agenda.

Other

Is it known what caused the fire?

No, the cause of the fire is not yet known. The building is too dangerous to enter for investigation. The fire department used a robot and a drone to investigate the casino. The fire department asks people to send video footage of the fire to publieksbeelden@vrgroningen.nl

Was there a sprinkler system in the building?

The HC building did not have a sprinkler system. This is not a legal requirement. The building satisfied the legal requirements for fire safety.