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Syrian chemical weapons waste arrives in Hamina

Waste from Syrian chemical weapons arrived in Hamina on Saturday morning. From here, the waste will be taken to Riihimäki, where it will be destroyed in the Ekokem waste treatment centre.

Taiko rahtialus
Image: Yle

The Norwegian vessel Taiko delivered to Finland a few dozen containers of the waste produced from the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. From Hamina, the containers will be transported by road to the Ekokem hazardous waste treatment facility in Riihimäki.

“The ship is carrying industrial chemicals from Syria, which are bound for Ekokem for treatment and incineration,” says Jani Lösönen, head of Ekokem Finland.

“There are many different chemicals there, but anyway they are the types normally transported over sea and by road,” Lösönen continues.

Confidential security

Hamina port would not comment on the security measures for the chemical weapons waste. The Ekokem chief is also tight-lipped about security matters:

“Many different risk analyses and readiness measures have been prepared in relation to this whole operation, but I will not elaborate on these in publicity,” Lösönen said, adding: “ This is confidential, and essential information as regards this project.”

Lösönen reveals that the containers will be loaded off the ship in Hamina normally, and they will then be transported by road to Riihimäki.

“In Riihimäki these chemicals and waste will be directed to high temperature incineration. Here the dangerous substances will be destroyed and the smoke gasses emitted will be channelled to the gas purification system,” Ekokem Finland’s head discloses.

“They will go in for treatment as soon as possible, depending on how discharging and transportation progress.”

One or two more loads still to come

The Syrian chemical weapons waste arriving on Saturday is the first load to reach Finland. Ekokem expects one or two more loads. However, the schedule of the next dispatches is not yet known.

Ekokem signed a deal in February with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), under the United Nations. Ekokem is responsible for destroying the chemical waste together with U.S. company Veolia.

In February, the CEO of Ekokem told Yle News that the company wanted to come on board the international project so it could participate in a good cause and decrease chemical weapons in the world.

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