2013 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:47:47 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] CHEMWEAPONS: "Destroying Syria's chemical weapons won't be easy"
[This column builds upon the message I sent on September 11, 2013. - LS]

Destroying Syria's chemical weapons won't be easy, but it's possible
New technology could be used to destroy Syria's weapons safely and on- site

Opinion by Lenny Siegel
Baltimore Sun
September 25, 2013

Globally, chemical weapons demilitarization has been difficult, slow and costly, but with technologies that have been developed over the past two decades, the safe destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile is feasible. While the diplomats work out the principles for sequestering and eliminating Syrian chemical warfare materiel, our government and others should be developing a strategy for safe, secure demilitarization. That work must begin now, not only because it will take time, but also because it is likely to raise issues that the diplomats will need to resolve.

In the eras before and after World War II, major powers disposed of their chemical weapons by burying them and dumping them in the ocean. Those may have been the best strategies for the time, but they have proven impermanent. In the U.S., "disposed" chemical rounds have been found in Delaware driveways built with clam shells dredged off the coast of New Jersey, and the Army is considering the excavation of trenches at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama containing an estimated 90,000 intact chemical munitions and over 800,000 other chemical- agent contaminated items. Today, in recognition of the potential use of chemical agents by non-state actors as well as the environmental health risks of chemical releases, more sophisticated approaches are required.

The U.S. has disposed of roughly 90 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile using both large incinerator complexes and a mix of neutralization technologies. Perhaps more important for the anticipated Syrian chemical demilitarization campaign, the U.S., Japan and Europe have developed transportable systems for safely disposing of intact chemical munitions as well as other chemical warfare materiel. Four such technologies were evaluated recently in the 2012 National Academies report, Remediation of Buried Chemical Warfare Materiel.


For the entire column, see
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-chemical- weapons-20130925,0,6675575.story

A permanent version may be found on CPEO's web site at


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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