PARIS/LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Britain is to award a contract to destroy around 150 tonnes of chemicals from Syria's chemical weapons programme to Veolia Environnement, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
The chemicals will be processed at the French water and waste management firm's incineration plant at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, England, the sources said, saying an announcement was due later on Thursday.
"This first contract will be for Veolia," said one of the sources, declining to say how much the contract was worth. The same source said the British government was expected to choose a company for another bigger contract at a later date.
Britain agreed in December to destroy part of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile at a commercial facility and to escort Scandinavian ships transporting the toxic cargo.
Facing the threat of U.S. air strikes, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad last year promised to dismantle its chemical arsenal, telling the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons it possessed 1,300 tonnes of such weapons.
Under a tight deadline agreed with the United States and Russia, Damascus has until the middle of this year to dismantle its entire chemical weapons programme. Veolia and the French and British foreign ministries declined to comment.