Wednesday, 02 July 2014
The OPCW has verified that the entire consignment of 600 metric tonnes of Priority 1 chemicals from the Syrian arsenal has been successfully transloaded from the Danish cargo ship Ark Futura onto the U.S. Maritime Vessel Cape Ray. The transloading took place without incident at the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy with the presence of OPCW inspectors, who continuously monitored the process.
The Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, expressed his gratitude to the government of Italy for offering the use of Gioia Tauro port. He also commended the professionalism and efficiency of all personnel involved in this operation.
The Cape Ray will now sail into international waters in the Mediterranean and begin neutralising the chemicals at sea with two Field Deployable Hydrolysis Systems (FDHS). U.S. officials estimate the neutralisation operations should be completed within 60 days.
The Ark Futura will continue on to the United Kingdom, where it will offload the rest of Syria’s Priority 1 chemicals for destruction in a commercial facility at Ellesmere Port. It will then head to Finland with some Priority 2 chemicals to be destroyed at a commercial facility at Riihimaki.
A second cargo ship, the Norwegian vessel Taiko, has already delivered a consignment of Priority 2 chemicals to Finland for destruction at the Riihimaki facility. The ship is now heading to Port Arthur, Texas USA where the rest of the Priority 2 chemicals will be destroyed at a commercial facility.
A team of OPCW inspectors will remain aboard the Cape Ray throughout the neutralisation operations to verify that the chemicals are destroyed in accordance with the stringent provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including for safety and security as stipulated in Article IV, paragraph 10: “Each State Party, during transportation, sampling, storage and destruction of chemical weapons, shall assign the highest priority to ensuring the safety of people and to protecting the environment.”
Before the Cape Ray left the United States for the Mediterranean to undertake this mission, OPCW experts determined that the FDHS units, storage arrangements, and measures to ensure the safety of the crew and prevent any possible spillage of chemicals off the ship, meet the high standards of the Convention for safety and security.