Last week was very busy. Suddenly, people who know something about how to destroy chemical weapons were in demand. And there were a lot of instant experts, some of whom were pretty confused.
Back in the late 1980s, I managed a project on supercritical water oxidation, which destroys hazardous compounds very completely. At that time, the chemical weapons programs were looking for ways to destroy their stocks. They found out about our project, and I spent about a year working with Tooele Army Depot. It turned out that there are cheaper ways to destroy chemical weapons that are just as good, so supercritical water oxidation was never a mainstay of their program. It is being planned to clean up the products of chemical neutralization at the Bluegrass, Kentucky, army depot.
But I got a tour of the Tooele facility, which required a gas mask fitting and training in how to use atropine self-injectors. And I had some time to think about the chemistry and politics of destroying chemical weapons. I’ve continued to follow progress in destroying chemical weapons.
Early last week, the Globe and Mail asked me to update an earlier article on destroying chemical weapons. Here’s the result:
The six steps to ridding Syria of chemical weapons.
Which led to participation in a New York Times Room for Debate, “Can Syria’s Chemical Arsenal Be Destroyed?”
I also was interviewed by Foreign Policy, National Geographic, and Canada’s Sun News (video).
Update (September 19, 2013): Interview with Swiss Public Radio.
Update (October 11, 2013): With the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the OPCW, I was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for this article.
And by National Geographic for this article.