Chemical weapons analytical course underway at Protechnik

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Starting today (Monday, 3 June) Armscor’s Protechnik Laboratories is hosting an analytical chemistry course on behalf of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPWC).

Twenty-two scientists from 14 countries reported at the Highveld Techno Park facility in Centurion to hone skills in the principles, procedures and application of gas chromatography techniques for the analysis of chemicals related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The focus is on providing hands-on experience for participants.

“We are excited to use our expertise and experience to strengthen relations with scientists within the African continent. This gathering will enhance the capabilities of the participants in the area of chemical analyses related to the implementation of the CWC,” Dr Noel Mkaza, Armscor Group Executive – Research and Development, said.

Sampling and sample preparation procedures for CWC related chemicals, laboratory quality management systems, troubleshooting and maintenance of gas chromatography are some topics for discussion and practical application during the ten-day course. As with last year’s course, those attending the 2024 iteration will learn how to conduct and verify samples, learn about degradation of chemical warfare agents, explore instrument usage and software as well as method validation, analysis and basic maintenance of laboratory equipment.

Protechnik Laboratories is a strategic facility in Armscor’s Research and Development Department. It is an applied chemistry/biochemistry facility with a primary focus on chemical and biological research. Biomedical studies are undertaken to characterise and identify biological warfare agents.

Protechnik does chemical and biological defence fieldwork for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). It provides technical support under contract to the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction on technical aspects related to the implementation of the CWC.

A hundred and ninety-three states have committed to the CWC indicating, according to its website, that 98% of the global population live under its protection. The CWC entered into force in April 1997 and, as of 31 March this year, declared 100% of the world’s chemical weapons stockpile was destroyed. In mass terms this amounts to 72 304 metric tonnes of chemical agents.