All 581 metric tonnes of a precursor chemical for sarin gas that were removed from the Syrian Arab Republic and trans-loaded onto the U.S. Maritime Vessel Cape Ray in early July, have been destroyed with neutralisation technology aboard the ship while sailing in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The destruction operations were continuously monitored and verified by a team of OPCW inspectors on the Cape Ray.
In a statement by the OPCW, Wednesday, 13 August 2014, the OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, thanked the United States for completing the destruction of the precursor chemicals in a safe and environmentally sound manner, and for its overall contribution to the international efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme.
The precursor chemicals - methylphosphonyl difluoride, or DF - were neutralised with two Field Deployable Hydrolysis Systems (FDHS) that were installed on the Cape Ray for the purpose of destroying the most dangerous chemicals in Syria’s stockpile. The FDHS units mix the chemicals with fresh water and reagents and then heat the mixture, which reduces the toxicity of the chemicals by at least 99.9 percent. All of the resulting effluents, or reaction mass, from hydrolysis of the DF are stored aboard the ship.
The Cape Ray has now begun operations to neutralise 19.8 metric tonnes of sulfur mustard, a blistering agent, which are all the Syrian chemicals that remain on the ship. When that has been completed, the Cape Ray will then transport the effluents from the DF and sulfur mustard for disposal at land-based facilities in Finland and Germany.