Cheshire West and Chester Council last week (16 Jan) immediately sought to reassure its residents following the announcement that chemicals removed from Syria are to be safely destroyed by Veolia in Ellesmere Port.
In December last year Government announced that the UK would help take responsibility for the safe destruction of chemicals originating in Syria as part of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons removal plan.
It has since agreed to destroy 130 tons of the country’s industrial grade chemical stockpile.
Only two companies in the country have the capability to handle such chemicals and Veolia, based in Ellesmere Port’s Bridges Road, has been awarded the contract.
The safe management and destruction of the chemicals, which are routinely used in the pharmaceutical industry, will take place at the end of February.
Councillor Lynn Riley – “We have asked Veolia whether we can have a list of such chemicals for disposal so that we can independently have those reviewed by Health Protection England to satisfy ourselves that the materials will provide no increased risk to the public”
Councillor Lynn Riley, executive member, localities stressed that the materials to be disposed of at the Ellesmere Port plant were not the actual chemical warfare weapons but the constituent chemicals used through a manufacturing process to create such weapons.
The chemicals, known as “B precursors” are not chemical weapons and do not contain explosives. They are used routinely in the UK pharmaceutical industry and are similar to the standard industrial materials safely proceed by the plant every day.
Councillor Riley said: “We have asked Veolia whether we can have a list of such chemicals for disposal so that we can independently have those reviewed by Health Protection England to satisfy ourselves that the materials will provide no increased risk to the public.
“I understand that any treatment of such chemicals will not take place until the end of February which will provide us sufficient time, once aware of the materials themselves, to seek the expert observations of independent Health Protection Specialists.”
Cheshire West and Chester monitors air quality in Ellesmere Port including equipment that measures pollutant concentrations at high level between Joseph Groome Towers and Ellesmere Port library.
Whilst this equipment is currently used for traditional pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, particulates and sulphur dioxide and is not currently capable of monitoring specialised pollutants, it is an indicator of products of combustion that may be in the vicinity.
Councillor Riley said: “We can assure the Ellesmere Port public we are actively monitoring during any period of disposal.”