How the CWC affects industry
The inspection process
The Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994 provides for inspection of facilities either by officers from ASNO or from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international implementing agency for the CWC. The OPCW is based in The Netherlands.
Role of ASNO
ASNO inspectors focus on compliance with the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994 and its regulations, and assist facility representatives to prepare for possible OPCW inspections. During an OPCW inspection, ASNO officials act as intermediaries between the OPCW inspection team and the site representatives to ensure Australia's international treaty obligations are met, while protecting the rights of the facility.
Role of OPCW
OPCW inspections are conducted by a small team from the Organisation's Technical Secretariat, but all OPCW inspectors are accompanied at all times by ASNO officers and site representatives. OPCW inspectors are employed full-time by the Organisation and they work under strict rules governing the protection of confidential information. They are chemical and chemical engineering professionals drawn from a range of CWC member-states.
The intensity of the inspection process depends on the nature of the chemical and the activities undertaken at the facility. The intensity is reduced from Schedule 1 through Schedule 2, Schedule 3 and DOC facilities. Australia has hosted a number of OPCW inspections since the CWC's entry into force.
Information to help relevant DOC facilities prepare for a possible OPCW inspection may be downloaded here: Inspection information for producers of chemicals [PDF 646 KB].
Challenge Inspections and Non-Compliance
The CWC includes mechanisms for addressing issues of non-compliance of CWC obligations through OPCW:
- Clarification requests for lesser concerns;
- Challenge inspections at any facility or location in CWC-member states.
Challenge inspections are intended to resolve questions of serious non-compliance with CWC obligations. None have taken place worldwide since the treaty's entry into force. It is unlikely that any individual Australian facility or location would be the subject of a challenge inspection. The chemical industry should nevertheless be aware of this possibility.