Chemicals from Syria's weapons stockpile are set to be destroyed in Ellesmere Port.
Waste management firm Veolia is expected to confirm plans to destroy chemicals at its site in Bridges Road later today (Thursday, January 16).
Proposals to destroy 150 tonnes of industrial-grade chemicals in Britain were announced before Christmas.
Speculation had been rife about where the chemicals would be taken, and the firm is now expected to announce Ellesmere Port as the location for their destruction later today.
As part of international efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, Britain had agreed to destroy 150 tonnes of industrial-grade chemicals.
Known as "B Precursors", the chemicals are typically used in the pharmaceutical industry. The Foreign Office has reassured people that the chemicals would only become toxic if mixed with "A Precursors", which are being removed from Syria separately.
The chemicals were expected to be taken to a British port with "suitable off-loading" equipment, leading to speculation that Ellesmere Port and Southampton were among those being considered.
The Chester Chronicle understands a decision has now been made, with Veolia's Ellesmere Port site soon to be announced as the destination for the chemicals.
The company's Bridges Road site has facilities used for high temperature incineration and treatment of low level radio-active waste materials.
In the announcement that some of Syria's chemicals would be destroyed in Britain, released before Christmas, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “The international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme is essential to ensure that Assad can never again use these horrific weapons to murder his own people.
“The UK along with the US, Russia, China, Denmark, Norway and Finland will be playing its part in this mission over the coming weeks and months. As part of our contribution, we have agreed to destroy 150 tonnes of two industrial-grade chemicals from the Syrian stockpile at a commercial facility.
“The chemicals, known as ‘B precursors’, are used in the pharmaceutical industry and are handled similarly to many other chemicals that are routinely manufactured, transported and destroyed in the UK.
“The chemicals only become highly toxic when mixed with an ‘A precursor’ to make a nerve agent. To eliminate this risk, the A and B precursors will be removed from Syria separately.
“The chemicals will be shipped to a UK port with suitable off-loading equipment before being transferred to a commercial site to be destroyed by incineration. The chemicals will be subject to industry-standard security measures.
“It is important to stress that these are chemicals, not chemical weapons. They do not contain explosives. The chemicals will be sealed in standard industrial containers to international standards and under the supervision of OPCW inspectors.”