The Cape Ray arrives in Northern Europe

20 Aug 2014

The US Navy chemical factory ship will in the coming days proceed into the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay heading towards the North sea.

The Cape Ray is loaded with 6000 tons of chemical aqueous and solid waste issued from the neutralization in the Mediterranean Sea of 560 tons of precursors of the Syrian chemical weapons.

The Cape Ray mission was carried out from July 9th to August 18th. It consisted in diluting precursors of sarin (540t) and of sulfur mustard agent (20t) pulled out of the Syrian territory. Only laconic communiqués from the Pentagon have dotted this sea run neutralization. No circumstantial account of weather conditions, ship spottings, technical uncertainties, air release has been published.

The reality of the option chosen by the US and probated by OPCN (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) and the UN are by now 6000t of toxic waste stored aboard the Cape Ray that is to say ten fold and more than the starting chemical substances.

This waste is on the way to be unloaded in Germany -the call port could be Wilhemshaven- where the 300t of sulfur mustard agent residues will be treated at the GEKA facility near Munster. The Cape Ray will then sail towards the Finnish Hamina Fotka harbor, near Helsinki to unload the 5700t of sarin precursor residues, which will be incinerated in a dedicated facility within an unknown processing time.

Robin des Bois (Robin Hood) based in Paris is the only NGO to have since the end of last year protested against the pre-treatment at sea of the Syrian chemical weapons and put into words its position through 6 notices. The arrival in northern Europe of these 6000t of waste is strengthening Robin des Bois’ stand.

The best available option would have been to straight eliminate the whole 560t of precursors in one or some operating highly toxic waste thermal plants settled in the European Union. Robin des Bois regrets that for fear of an outcry from a small fraction of public opinion the French and Belgian governments have turned down this option. The NGO is grateful to English and Finnish authorities for their determination to take part in the humanitarian action to destroy Syrian chemical weapons. Great Britain and Finland have indeed agreed to take on the thermal destruction of a portion of the hazardous substances that was planned to be treated aboard the Cape Ray.

Last but not least, Robin des Bois’ opinion is that the unprecedented Cape Ray operation will pave the way for treatment at sea of other toxic waste and thus facilitate the conversion of coastal waters and worldwide oceans into an open industrial zone.

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