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Last shipment of Syrian chemical waste arrives in Finland

Waste disposal company Ekokem announced that its Riihimäki plant is ready to begin incinerating the final batch of toxic waste following the completion of an international operation to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. However questions remain over whether the regime of President Assad is continuing to use poison gas against its people.

Ekokem Riihimäki laitosalue.
Ekokem's waste disposal plant in Riihimäki, southern Finland. Image: Ekokem Oy Ab

The final batch of dangerous waste from the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons programme has arrived in Finland, where it will be disposed of.

Waste processing company Ekokem announced that the shipment arrived at the Finnish port of Hamina over the weekend, where it was brought by the US container ship Cape Ray.

Ekokem say they are now awaiting delivery of the 5,000 tons of toxic waste to their disposal plant in Riihimäki, southern Finland, where it will be incinerated.

The shipment contains neutralised raw materials which were generated by the international operation to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The Finnish company won the contract to process the chemical waste in February this year.

Ekokem has so far dealt with two batches of industrial chemicals from Syria, totalling 300 tons. The company says the majority of the material has already been disposed of.

“Serious questions” remain

One year ago Syria agreed to a Russian proposal to give up its chemical weapons in order to avoid threatened military action by the US and France.

Although the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced last month that its operation to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is now complete, President Obama said there are still “serious questions” over whether Syria surrendered all of its chemical weapons arsenal, and whether the regime of President Assad is still using poison gas against its people.

Last week a UN commission of inquiry accused the Syrian government of dropping chlorine bombs on civilian areas in April and May this year.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said negotiations between the OPCW and Syria are still underway, over arrangements for destroying 12 remaining chemical weapons production facilities.

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