Marchwood: Syria Chemical Shipment Arrives In UK

15 July 2014, 18:59 | Updated: 15 July 2014, 19:01

A shipment of 200 tonnes of chemicals which were stockpiled in Syria to make lethal weapons has arrived in the UK to be destroyed.

The consignment has arrived at Marchwood Military Port, near Southampton, on board the Danish vessel Ark Futura.

The chemicals will now be loaded on to lorries to be taken to a specialist plant run by Veolia in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, for destruction.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that the chemicals had arrived in the UK but explained that they were B grade materials which were no more dangerous than those used in everyday industry.

The Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond originally acted as escort as the chemicals were shipped out of Syria by Norwegian and Danish vessels before being taken to Italy.

Once assessed, the chemicals have been brought by merchant vessels to the UK without the need for extra security because of their industrial nature.

The chemicals which have arrived at Marchwood, under the initiative by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, are made up of 150 tonnes of B chemical precursor, which is used in the pharmaceutical industry, 44 tonnes of hydrochloric acid and six tonnes of hydrogen fluoride.

HMS Diamond also returned to its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base last week having completed its six-month mission including its involvement in Operation RECSYR (Removal of chemical weapons from Syria), which was the result of diplomatic efforts to eliminate chemical weapons from the Syrian regime and the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2118, which called for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.

Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia's executive vice-president, UK & Ireland said:

"We can now confirm that following an approach by the Ministry of Defence, Veolia will be providing additional support to the Government's Syrian chemicals initiative.

"We will also be destroying 44t of hydrochloric acid, which is used in school laboratories and is a standard industrial chemical that is safely and routinely processed at Ellesmere Port, as well as the original 150t of 'B' precursors.

 "As the global leader in environmental services, we are committed to providing safe sustainable treatment solutions. The Syrian chemicals will be safely destroyed under our strict environmental permit and in line with our high environmental, health, safety and operating standards.''

A Veolia spokeswoman said that the 194t of Syrian chemicals, consisting of both 'B' precursors and hydrochloric acid will be destroyed at Ellesmere Port under Veolia's existing Ministry of Defence contract for treating waste arising from its operations.

She added: "The Government is making other arrangements for the remainder of the additional 50t consignment, which consists of 6t of hydrogen fluoride (HF), to be treated elsewhere via a different process.

"All the chemicals have been brought to the UK by ship today (Tuesday July 15) - no chemical weapon agents are being brought to the UK for destruction. ''