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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Workshop to upgrade industrial chemical expertise

Sri Lanka, launched its first-ever technical sessions on industrial chemicals last week and a top team from the Hague's Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was here to upgrade Sri Lanka's industrial chemical expertise to the next level.

“Chemical safety and security measures help to prevent re-emergence of chemical weapons and misuse of toxic chemicals. The SAARC region has become important for our overview,” the Lankan-born Deputy Director General of the (OPCW), Ms Grace Asirwatham told a workshop on ‘Chemical Security and Safety for Sustainable Industrial Development’ for Member States of the OPCW in the SAARC, in Colombo recently.

Representatives of the OPCW, SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan) and observing countries (USA, Qatar)were present.

Among the Lankan private sector firms, representatives of Holcim Lanka, A Baur & Co, Janet Ayurvedic Ltd and Sanichem (Pvt) Ltd while representatives from the Army, Navy, Police, and Customs were also present.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an international treaty for the prohibition of the development, production, transfer, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction. Sri Lanka ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in August 1994. Chemical Weapons Convention Act No. 58 of 2007 has been enforced since August 2008.

“Chemical security is an area of increasing priority. Our focus is gradually shifting from destruction of chemical weapons to preventing its re-emergence. This is happening against the backdrop of a changing landscape and impressive advances in science and technology,” said Deputy Director General Asirwatham.

“There is increasing globalisation of the chemical industry and a growing threat from non-State actors. The world has changed considerably since 1993 when the chemical weapons convention was opened for signature,” she said.

“Advances in science and technology have created new risks. That is why enhancing chemical safety and security is important in our collective efforts to reduce the risks posed by toxic chemicals,” the Deputy Director General said.

“This not only helps us to enhance implementation of the convention but also helps to protect our population against exposure to dangerous chemicals. Chemical safety and security measures also helps prevent re-emergence of chemical weapons and misuse of toxic chemicals,” she said.

“We must be alert to present and future challenges. We need to focus on two key areas. First is capacity building among State parties and second, creating a more robust safety and security culture,” Asirwatham said.

“Measures to monitor the chemical industry need to be updated and upgraded if they are to keep pace with new developments. For its part, OPCW plays the role of a catalyst triggering national processes in State parties and also acts as a clearing house making available information and tools matching the needs of State parties,” she said.

 

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