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Pure Appl. Chem. Vol. 74, No. 2, pp. 187-316 (2002)

Pure and Applied Chemistry

Vol. 74, Issue 2




Critical evaluation of proven chemical weapon destruction technologies (IUPAC Technical Report)

Graham S. Pearson1,** and Richard S. Magee2

1Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP, UK 2Carmagen Engineering, Inc., 4 West Main Street, Rockaway, NJ 07866, USA

Abstract: A critical evaluation is made of the chemical weapon destruction technologies demonstrated for 1 kg or more of agent in order to provide information about the technologies proven to destroy chemical weapons to policy-makers and others concerned with reaching decisions about the destruction of chemical weapons and agents. As all chemical agents are simply highly toxic chemicals, it is logical to consider the destruction of chemical agents as being no different from the consideration of the destruction of other chemicals that can be as highly toxictheir destruction, as that of any chemicals, requires the taking of appropriate precautions to safeguard worker safety, public health, and the environment. The Chemical Weapons Convention that entered into force in 1997 obliges all States Parties to destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons within 10 years from the entry into force of the Conventionby 2007with the possibility of an extension for up to 5 years to 2012. There is consequently a tight timeline under the treaty for the destruction of stockpiled chemical weapons and agentsprimarily held in Russia and the United States. Abandoned or old chemical weaponsnotably in Europe primarily from World War I, in China from World War II as well as in the United Statesalso have to be destroyed. During the past 40 years, more than 20 000 tonnes of agent have been destroyed in a number of countries and over 80 % of this has been destroyed by incineration. Although incineration is well proven and will be used in the United States to destroy over 80 % of the U.S. stockpile of 25 800 tonnes of agent, considerable attention has been paid particularly in the United States to alternative technologies to incineration because of several constraints that are specific to the United States. Much of the information in this report is based on U.S. experienceas the United States had, along with the Russian Federation, by far the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and agents anywhere in the world. The United States has made much progress in destroying its stockpile of chemical weapons and agents and has also done more work than any other country to examine alternative technologies for the destruction of chemical weapons and agents. However, the national decisions to be taken by countries faced with the destruction of chemical weapons and agents need to be made in the light of their particular national conditions and standardsand thus may well result in a decision to use different approaches from those adopted by the United States. This report provides information to enable countries to make their own informed and appropriate decisions.

** Corresponding author.

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