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Govt reassures Calabria on Syrian chemicals transfer

Governor satisfied local population will be safe

21 January, 17:04
Govt reassures Calabria on Syrian chemicals transfer (ANSA) - Rome, January 21 - After meeting with Premier Enrico Letta on Tuesday, officials from Italy's southern Calabria region said they are satisfied a proposed Syrian chemical weapons ship-to-ship transfer slated to take place in Gioia Tauro port will not endanger the local population.

Environment Minister Andrea Orlando and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi were also present at the meeting, in which the government reassured the Calabrian delegation that the chemical materials transfer from one Danish and one Norwegian cargo ship to the MV Cape Ray, a US Navy ship, will take place at sea.

''The transfer will happen within a safety margin that will not involve our territory'', Calabria Governor Giuseppe Scopelliti told reporters.

''We received ample reassurances from Premier Letta.

''We were painted an alarming picture, but it was explained to us that similar operations have already taken place in 2012 and 2013, in Gioia Tauro and in other Italian ports'', he added.

Premier Enrico Letta organized the meeting with local and regional representatives in the area ahead of the United Nations-organized arms transfer, after local leaders expressed outrage over not being consulted before the government made its announcement last week.

The MV Cape Ray sets sail from the US on Wednesday and is expected in the Mediterranean in 10 days. It will be fitted with the US Army's Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS), a ship-borne facility that can break chemical arms down into materials that cannot be re-used as weapons.