Changes to CWC licensing arrangements

In 2015 departments were asked (Memo M7/15) to declare to the Safety Office any chemicals in their possession that were listed under Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The chemicals specifically listed in Schedule 1 are subject to strict licensing arrangements, which limit the amount that can be held under different licensing conditions.

The list of Schedule 1 chemicals may be seen in Appendix 1 to University Policy Statement S5/04.  Departments holding, using or producing Schedule 1 chemicals, or intending to purchase or acquire them, must be covered by the appropriate license. This licence is currently held centrally by the Safety Office.

Chemical Weapons Convention UK National Authority has recently written to the University to inform them that Ricin A-Chain chemicals have been added to Schedule 1 of the CWC. The separate Ricin chains are regarded as equivalent to the toxin itself and are therefore now licensable CWC Schedule 1 chemicals. The Chemical Weapons Convention UK National Authority require a response to their letter in the form of a completed questionnaire by Friday 27 September 2019.

This questionnaire will be completed and submitted by the Safety Office. However the relevant information is required from departments before this can be done.

Action by Heads of Departments

Although this extension is specifically for Ricin A-Chain and any hybrids or conjugates containing it, please can you advise the Safety Office if your department has (or intends to have) any form of Ricin (Ricin, Ricin A-Chain, Ricin B-Chain,  hybrids or conjugates containing it), or suspected Ricin, stored, used, produced or present for any other reason. Specifically you need to provide the following information:

  • form of Ricin/suspected Ricin: (Ricin, Ricin A-Chain, Ricin B-Chain, hybrid, conjugate)
  • quantity
  • activity (stored/held/used/produced)
  • purpose (in what way do you use it/work with it)
  • if purchased, please provide the details of the organisations that are/would be the suppliers (UK suppliers and overseas suppliers)

Departments are required to action this and send any positive returns flagged as urgent to by Monday 23rd September 2019. Apologies for the tight turnaround which is driven by the regulating authority.

It is the responsibility of Heads of Department to ensure that all relevant principal investigators / research group supervisors / store managers confirm whether or not work is being undertaken with Ricin (in any form) or if it is being stored in any location. However, the return may be sent by Departmental Safety Officers or Administrators on their behalf.