Fate and control of blistering chemical warfare agents in Kuwait's desalination industry

Hosny K. Khordagui, "Fate and control of blistering chemical warfare agents in Kuwait's desalination industry," Science & Global Security, 6, no. 2, (1997): 239-263.
Kuwait, as most of the other states located along the Western shores of the Arabian Gulf, relies upon the Gulf as its main drinking water resource via desalination. In case of seawater contamination with blistering chemical warfare agents, traces of the agents and/or degradation products in the finished water might pose a serious health hazard. The objective of the present review is to study the potential contamination, transport, fate, effect and control of blistering chemical warfare agents (CWAs), in the Kuwaiti desalination industry. In general, all the environmental factors involved in the aquatic degradation of CWAs in Kuwait marine environment except for the high salinity in case of blistering agents such as sulphur mustard, are in favor of a fast degradation process. In case of massive releases of CWAs near the Kuwaiti shorelines, turbulence resulting from tidal cycles and high temperature will affect the dissolution process and extend the toxicity of the insoluble agent. Post- and pre-chlorination during the course of seawater desalination will catalyze and significantly accelerate the hydrolysis processes of the CWAs. The heat exerted on CWAs during the power generation-desalination processes is not expected to thermally decompose them. However, the steam heat will augment the agent's rate of hydrolysis with subsequent acceleration in their rate of detoxification. Conventional pretreatment of feed seawater for reverse-osmosis desalination is theoretically capable of reducing the concentration of CWAs by coprecipitation and adsorption on floes formed during coagulation. Prechlorination and prolonged detention time in pretreatment units will simultaneously promote hydrolysis reactions.

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