Sea Hosting 100-Million Year-Old Species to be Site of Syrian Chemical Weapons Stockpile Dump

By Shepard Ambellas | November 29, 2013 | 1:40pm EDT

The OPCW is now claiming they have a “technically feasible” plan to dump chemical weapons into the Mediterranean Sea reports say.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


MEDITERRANEAN SEA (INTELLIHUB) —  In what can only be described as a really bad idea, the organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is planning to destroy at least 1000 tones of the confiscated Syrian chemical weapon stockpile out at sea, which some fear will destroy delicate eco systems vital to sea and human life alike.

The OPCW claims the plan is “technically feasible” and is apparently willing to risk ecological disaster to destroy the toxic contents of the weaponry in or above the sea. Members of the press were told, the “group is considering whether to destroy the chemical weapons in the ocean, either on a ship or by loading them onto an offshore rig”, reported, RT.[1] If the operation is approved for a green light, the Mediterranean Sea appears as if it will be the drop point. The MV Cape Ray would be conducting the transport, according to reports.

Most of the Syrian’s chemical weapons supply is expected to be removed from the country into international custody by the year’s end. All of the remaining contents are scheduled to be removed by mid-2014. also reported, “OPCW Director General Ahmet Umzucu said in a statement that the plan was a “clear road map” to meet the aforementioned deadline. 

This next phase will be the most challenging, and its timely execution will require the existence of a secure environment for the verification and transport of chemical weapons,” he said. “Continuing international support and assistance for this endeavor will remain crucial.” 

When Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said no to the request – citing “no capacity of any kind pertaining to the transport and technological processes involved” – he outlined many of the same problems that the OPCW and UN must now consider.  

Any action will certainly need to be more intricate than when the Japanese government destroyed weapons leftover from World War II in 2004-2006. In doing so, the Japanese set up a disposal plant on a floating platform. 

The Syrian weapons will produce liquid waste that those Japanese weapons did not. It also makes hydrolysis, a neutralization process that involves adding water to the chemical, much less likely. 

If you use hydrolysis or incineration, there will be liquid waste,” Ralf Trapp, an independent chemical disarmament specialist, told Reuters. “So there will be problems with regard to environmental pollution that need to be addressed.”[1] 

Which ever way you slice it, the eco systems of the Mediterranean Sea would be at risk if the chemical stockpile was indeed destroyed in the waters. According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) “The Mediterranean is an enclosed sea with the world’s second highest percentage of endemic species, including the Posidonia sea grass and the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal.

Species also include 28 cetaceans, the 100-million year old loggerhead turtle, and the commercially important blue-fin tuna and swordfish. 

Currently, less than 1% of the Mediterranean Sea is protected.

We are working to establish marine and coastal protected areas to protect the most important regions for biodiversity. We promote fisheries management systems which do not adversely affect marine productivity. We also try to ensure that measures against pollution agreed in international conventions, such as the Barcelona Convention, are endorsed and implemented.

WWF Mediterranean works at a pan-Mediterranean level, and also focuses efforts on marine regions in Croatia , Libya , Morocco , Tunisia and Turkey. […]

The Mediterranean hosts several endangered marine species: 

  • the monk seal (Monachus monachus), of which about 350 – 400 now survive in the world.
  • the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the 100-million year old loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), which nest on Mediterranean beaches.
  • 18 cetacean species, of which seven can be observed throughout the year: the pilot whale, fin whale, sperm whale, common dolphin, striped dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and the Risso’s dolphin.
  • the endemic sea-grass Posidonia oceanica , which plays a crucial role in coast protection by acting as a buffer to currents and waves.[4]

Environmental activists will likely soon emerge protesting the proposed actions of the OPCW.



[1] Syrian chemical weapons likely to be destroyed at sea – report –

[2] US Could Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms In Med –

[3] Mediterranean Sea large marine ecosystem –

[4] Marine environment: the Mediterranean sea and its coasts –


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