Last chemical munition destroyed at Shchuchye facility

All chemical weapons have been destroyed at the Shchuchye facility in the Kurgan region

All chemical weapons have been destroyed at the Shchuchye facility in the Kurgan region. "Today the last munition was destroyed here. Thus, all stockpiles of chemical weapons at these facilities have been eliminated," Col. Gen. Valery Kapashin, head of the Federation Agency for Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, told Interfax-AVN on Sept.22.

A total of 5,500 tonnes of toxic agents within more than 1.9 million chemical artillery munitions have been destroyed at Shchuchye, he said. "Some of them were complex-structure munitions containing not only toxic but also explosive substances which could not be extracted," the agency said in a press release.

The plant at Shchuchye is the fifth of the seven Russian arsenals to have destroyed all stockpiles of chemical weapons. To date, Russia has destroyed around 91.4 percent of its stockpiles, Kapashin said.

The Shchuchye facility has become the fifth - after Gorny (Saratov region), Kambarka (Udmurtia), Leonidovka (Penza Region) and Maradykovsky (Kirov Region) - to have completed the process of destroying chemical weapons.

Leonidovka was the world's first facility to use an industrial installation to destroy complex-structure chemical munitions. The installation has proved its efficiency and safe operation while being used at Leonidovka. "Very soon the destruction of chemical weapons will also be completed in the Bryansk region [the Pochep facility]," Kapashin said.

Subsequently, the Russian chemical disarmament program will continue at the Kizner facility in Udmurtia, the last one to have been commissioned (in December 2013). By now Kizner has destroyed around 40 percent of its toxic agent stockpiles, Kapashin said.

The facilities which have completed the process will need to be made safe: their equipment will be decontaminated and their land recultivated, he said. "These measures will begin as early as January 2016," the general said.

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