In accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) leads international inspections and investigations and enforces the CWC Treaty. Since first achieving certification in 2003, LLNL is one of just two U.S. laboratories accredited by the OPCW to analyze samples from suspected chemical weapon production facilities. Our work in improving analysis methodologies for detecting chemical warfare agent (CWA) exposures as well as developing environmental, safety, and health protocols for handling and synthesizing CWAs has made the FSC a valuable resource in eradicating chemical weapons.
The FSC is expected to achieve high scores on OPCW’s annual proficiency tests, averaging “AAB” grades or better. In 2017, the FSC earned its eighth consecutive “A” grade from the OPCW. Says program leader Brad Hart, “Maintaining OPCW certification is especially challenging. The annual tests are among the most difficult chemical analysis proficiency tests and challenge some of the world’s best analytical laboratories. That we have completed seven consecutive tests, receiving an ‘A’ grade for each, is directly attributable to the experience, skill, and dedication of the staff who work in the Center every day.”
Maintaining this accreditation requires the successful completion of complex, fast-turnaround proficiency tests to identify the contents of samples spiked with unknown chemical compounds. Striving for success, even when the tests become more difficult each year, pushes FSC staff to continually extend the Center’s capabilities in analytical chemistry. The FSC must be able to detect minute amounts of chemical warfare agents, precursor compounds, and their decomposition products. Learn more about the rigorous certification process.