WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Department has offered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons ( OPCW) technical help for removing chemical weapons from Syria by Dec. 31, and is making arrangements to deploy such help should the OPCW accept the offer, senior defense officials said Thursday.
Speaking on background to reporters, defense officials said the help they offered is called field-deployable hydrolysis system, using heat, water and bleach-like chemicals to turn chemical weapon components into low-level hazardous waste that can be commercially stored.
The chemicals the Pentagon has offered to help destroy will be mustard gas and components of nerve agents sarin and VX, officials said. The stockpile is mostly in bulk liquid storage, not in filled artillery shells or munitions.
"Based on that understanding we analyzed various technologies including incineration and decided to use a proven technology that we had a lot of experience with in U.S.," one official said, adding the technology is a hydrolysis system or neutralization technology, which essentially mixes the chemicals with water and sodium hypochlorite bleach and produces a very low-level waste or effluent.
"We've used this proven technology, but then designed it in a way that it would be transportable. The heart of the field- deployable hydrolysis system fits within two standard shipping containers," the official said.
The Defense Department has begun a rapid acquisition effort to fabricate the field-deployable hydrolysis system units, the official said, adding that three units were now in place.
Among the three units, two are being outfitted onto a vessel called the Cape Ray from the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration. If the OPCW accepts Pentagon's offer, the ship will be used for neutralization operations at sea next year, at a location to be determined, the official said.
The hydrolysis units are being mounted below deck inside an enclosure with special carbon filters, along with an analytical laboratory. Ship personnel are being trained and the ship is being prepared to sail early next year.
The official said the product of the neutralization will not be "dumped at sea," adding that "the inert by-product will be treated to reduce its acidity and then stored in international standards organization approved containers and kept on the ship until their eventual disposition at a commercial waste-treatment facility."