AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The global chemical weapons watchdog said on Monday it had received 14 tenders from companies including in America, Europe and China, offering to destroy part of Syria's toxic stockpile.
The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), tasked with overseeing the destruction process, has earmarked up to 40 million euros ($54 million) for the commercial processing of 500 metric tonnes of industrial chemicals and millions of litres of toxic waste.
The companies are Airbus Defence & Space, Séché-Environment Group and Veolia of France, Augean Plc and Remondis of the United Kingdom, China National Chemical Corporation, Vector LLC of Russia, Switzerland's Dottikon AG, EkoKem AB of Finland, Saudi Arabia's Pan Gulf Industrial Systems, SITA Iberica of Spain, Verein of Germany, Indaver of Belgium and America's InnoSepra, Paragon Waste Solutions and TM Deer Park Services. Verein, Veolia, Remondis and Indaver are working together in a temporary association, the OPCW said.
Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention last year and is on a tight deadline to destroy its entire declared stockpile of 1,300 metric tonnes of toxic agents by mid-2014.
The bulk industrial chemicals will be sent to commercial incinerators, while a smaller portion of more deadly toxins will be destroyed on a specially-outfitted American ship.
Chemical weapons were likely used in five out of seven attacks investigated by U.N. experts in Syria, where civil war has killed more than 100,000 people.
The most serious was on August 21, when hundreds of people died in a sarin gas attack in the outskirts of Damascus. The agreement to destroy Syria's chemical weapons averted a possible missile strike by the United States.
The OPCW, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, has said it expects to select the companies and complete the tender process by the end of January. ($1 = 0.7376 euros)
(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Sara Webb and Janet Lawrence)