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Chemical Weapons

OPCW starts construction of new ChemTech Centre

The new laboratory will expand facilities needed for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention

by Laura Howes
September 27, 2021


A photo of the contruction site for a new Prohibition of Chemical Weapons building with the OPCW flag flying above it.
Credit: OPCW
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons held a "First Pillar Ceremony" to mark the start of construction of upgraded laboratory, training and equipment facilities

Construction has officially begun on a new scientific facility for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). On Sept. 23, OPCW director general Fernando Arias, led a “First Pillar” ceremony at the construction site just outside the Hague to mark the occasion.

“The ChemTech Centre will strengthen the OPCW’s capabilities to tackle new and emerging chemical weapons threats, as well as to support capacity building for OPCW Member States,” said Arias during the ceremony.

Since the international Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997, OPCW scientists have worked in a rented building in nearby Rijswijk. As the OPCW has expanded its efforts to end chemical warfare, it has outgrown the rented space. The 2017 Conference of State Parties agreed that the OPCW needed a new facility, and it has taken since then to get plans and funding in place.

Staff at the new, larger facility will process samples collected by OPCW investigators, store and maintain equipment, train inspectors and chemists from OPCW Member States, and research ways to improve verification and decommissioning processes. The €33.5 million ($39.3 million) budget for the building on a 6,400 m2 plot comes from voluntary contributions outside of the OPCW’s core funding, including a $10,000 donation from the American Chemical Society (the ACS publishes C&EN). Work is due to finish by the end of 2022, after which the OPCW will decommission the existing laboratory and equipment store.



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