FURTHER details about the destruction of 150 tonnes of industrial-grade chemicals from Syria’s weapons stockpile are set to be revealed to day as the Globe goes behind the scenes at the Ellesmere Port site.
Waste management firm Veolia confirmed in January that the chemicals will be destroyed at its site in Bridges Road as part of the international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapon programme.
The consignment of “B Precursor” chemicals will be treated at the High Temperature Incineration facility under its existing hazardous waste treatment contract with the Disposal Services Authority (DSA), part of the Ministry of Defence.
When the announcement was made, a spokesman for Veolia said the chemicals 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.
The facility is said to have passed rigorous audit inspections by relevant authorities and the chemicals will be treated in line with the stringent requirements of its strict environmental permit.
Today, Globe senior reporter Emma Rigby will be going behind the scenes at the site where representatives from the Foreign Office are expected to give a briefing on the chemicals’ destruction.
Last month, the Foreign Office reassured people that the chemicals would only become toxic if mixed with a “A Precursors”. These are being removed from Syria separately.
Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia Environnement executive vice-president, UK & Northern Europe, said: “We are pleased to have been selected by the British Government to support this important initiative which will see our Ellesmere Port facility directly involved at the start of the implementation of the international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme.
“We will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Defence and relevant UK authorities to ensure the safe destruction of these chemicals in line with our high environmental, health, safety and operating standards.”
Half of Syria’s 1,300 tonne chemical weapon stockpile is made up of extremely toxic materials used in making Saran and Vx gases, as well a small amount of mustard gas.
Those more dangerous chemicals are set to be destroyed at sea by the US Navy.
Opened in 1990, the facility treats approximately 100,000 tonnes of hazardous materials every year and employs 73 staff.