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Syria's weapons chemicals head to Marchwood Military Port
THEY are the ingredients that were set to be used to kill.
Instead 150 tonnes of chemicals originally stockpiled to make deadly weapons by the Syrian regime are heading to Hampshire.
The consignment is expected to arrive in Marchwood Military Port from the war-torn Middle Eastern country this summer.
When it arrives in Marchwood the chemicals will be transported overland to Ellesmere Port in Cheshire where they will be destroyed at a specialist plant owned by Veolia.
The deadline for destroying the weapons set by the international community is June 30.
But it is likely to take at least another month to load the ships before a journey of more than a week to Britain.
A Foreign Office spokesman said that a final date had yet to be set, but estimated that the vessel was likely to arrive in late August.
She stressed that its cargo would not pose a threat to human health.
She said: “The chemicals will have been diluted to such an extent that will minimise their potential and there is no risk to local populations.
“There are detailed plans to liaise with local councils and the Environment Agency and community groups.”
A spokesman for Veolia said that B precursor chemicals were routinely used in the pharmaceutical industry and were similar in nature to standard industrial materials safely processed at its plant.
Marchwood’s Hampshire county councillor Cllr David Harrison said: “There is a job that needs to be done and the port is very experienced and has the facilities.
“I believe and have faith there will be no risk to human health.”
Syria is believed to posses 1,300 tonnes of chemical agents, including the nerve agent sarin, which was unleashed by President Bashar al-Assad on civilians in Ghouta last August, when more than 1,000 people died.
The shipment of so-called B precursor chemicals is part of a major international scheme to destroy the stockpiles after the regime of President al-Assad brokered a deal with the US and Russia.
The chemicals are being transported out of the country by sea as part of a multi-national mission overseen by the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The components have deliberately been separated into two different vessels for safety so that they cannot be used to create weapons.
A Norwegian ship Taiko will transport the chemicals to the USA, while the Danish vessel Ark Futura will travel to Britain.
En route it will stop at the US ship MV Cape Ray, where most of the more toxic substances will be neutralised by the process of hydrolysis.
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