Towards a safe transport of chemicals: Workshop with experts from OPCW member states at the University of Wuppertal
With global supply chains and interconnected trade relations, how can we make the transport of chemicals safer for everyone? This is an important question and one that calls for transnational cooperation. “The development of guidelines to ensure safe transportation is vital in chemical safety and important for public security,” explains Prof Dr Roland Goertz, Head of the Institute for Chemical Safety at the University of Wuppertal. To discuss such future guidelines, representatives from eight OPCW member states met from the 4th to the 6th of April 2022 in Wuppertal, Germany. This event kicked off a second phase of workshops to develop instruments for chemical safety, which are foreseen to be adopted in two years’ time.
After two years of virtual meetings, the participants were finally able to meet again in person: 11 experts from almost every OPCW region brainstormed and discussed guidelines for the safe land transport of hazardous chemicals. In his opening speech, Dr Stefan Kordasch, Head of the chemical and biological weapons division at the German Federal Foreign Office, emphasised the importance of international cooperation and the individual responsibility of every country to ensure the safe and peaceful use of chemicals. He further stressed that the war in Ukraine and the worrying reports about the potential use of chemical weapons underlines the global importance of the OPCW’s work once again.
In the discussions among the participants, it became clear that topics such as gender equality and socio-economic factors also play a significant role in chemical safety. Prof Roland Goertz and Dr Alexey Leksin from the University of Wuppertal presented different aspects of technical and regulatory topics. Both lecturers were satisfied with the results of the workshop and highlighted the excellent teamwork with the international pool of participants. Dr Leksin was also pleased that the workshop was back to a face-to-face format: “In-person, we were able to quickly and effectively summarise the essential aspects for safely transporting hazardous chemicals”. The next sessions are already scheduled, as the recommendations on the development of instruments for chemical safety are expected to be adopted in two years. Another important step towards a world in which chemicals are used safely and peacefully.
 Since 2011, the cooperation between the OPCW and the University of Wuppertal is funded and supported by the Federal Republic of Germany.