Crete governor concerned by chemical arms destruction

The governor of the Greek island of Crete has expressed his concern over the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons on the environment.

Crete governor concerned by chemical arms destruction

World Bulletin / News Desk

Stavros Arnautakis, the governor of the Greek island of Crete, lashed out at the planned destruction of Syrian chemical weapons off the island's western coast in the territorial sea between Malta, Libya and Crete, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Upon environmental concerns, Arnautakis stated he had held related talks with his Greek and European counterparts to exhibit a joint stance with the European Parliament and other international institutions regarding the issue.

As organized by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), most of the hazardous chemical weapons- consisting of sarin, mustard gas and sulphur- are ready to be destroyed in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea between Greece, Malta and Italy on Danish and Norwegian ships.

Seriously concerned over the effects on Crete's marine habitat, local residents of the Greek island also opposed the destruction procedure which involves the hydrolysis process to neutralize the chemicals weapons, despite US officials guaranteeing them that the marine habitat would remain unharmed.

"For the sake of the environment, we never let others to take decisions in this sensitive region on our behalf. We will table a motion, if necessary, to the European Parliament or the Greek Parliament and demand related official information," said Arnautakis.

In a letter to Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Energy Minister Yannis Maniatis in which he voiced his concerns that the most dangerous parts of Syria's chemical stockpile are planned to be destroyed in the Mediterranean Sea, he called on them to block such an attempt.

“The dumping of 800 tonnes of chemical weapons treated with hydrolysis in the Mediterranean will cause serious pollution, environmental degradation and severe threats to public health. It does not respect local societies, international conventions and the very valuable ecosystems and marine species present in the area," read the letter.

The initial step of destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal started on Tuesday after the first batch was shipped out of the war-stricken country for destruction on January 7 and safely loaded aboard a Danish cargo ship in the northwest Syrian port of Latakia.

After failing to meet the first deadline to transport its "most toxic" chemicals, including around 20 tons of mustard nerve agent, to the northern port of Latakia by December 31 as pledged under a historic US-Russian deal, Syria is obliged to destroy all of its chemical weapons by June 2014.

According to official data, around 1,500 civilians were killed and thousands of others wounded in the chemical weapons attack in Syria in August 2013.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ocak 2014, 10:15