A PETITION has been launched to stop 150 tonnes of Syria’s chemical weapons from being incinerated in Ellesmere Port.

More than 350 people have signed the petition since it was set up three days ago, calling on the Ministry of Defence to rethink their decision after it was announced that the industrial-grade chemicals from Syria’s weapons stockpile was to be destroyed by Veolia Environmental Services in Bridges Road.

The petition, set up by Hayden Kibble, says: “The Ministry of Defence and Veolia have kept the details of the deal quiet and no information has been released regarding the level of risk to public safety or the damaging effect the pollution that the destruction of these toxic chemicals will have on the environment.”

It adds that “transporting and destroying such a huge amount of dangerous chemicals carries a very high risk” and that the effect of an accident on the local population could be “devastating”.

It adds: “Burning 150 tonnes of dangerous chemicals will almost certainly release a vast amount of smoke into the environment. The local population could suffer adverse effects for years to come.

“We must act now to protect our community and show the Ministry of Defence that we will not allow our area to be used as a toxic dumping ground.”

The petition also calls on the MoD to consider choosing an alternative location.

A Veolia company spokesman told the Globe last week that the substances – known as B precursors - are routinely used in the pharmaceutical industry in the UK and are “similar in nature” to standard industrial materials “safely processed on a regular basis” at Ellesmere Port.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has apologised to the people of Ellesmere Port and Neston after failing to inform them about the disposal of the chemicals – which are heading to the UK after Syrian President Assad agreed to dismantle his regime’s weapons stockpile in September.

The Foreign Office has assured people that the chemicals would only become toxic if mixed with A precursors. These are being removed from Syria separately.

The disposal process is due to take place at the end of February.

To sign the petition, click here.