HC Deb 25 March 1980 vol 981 cc553-4W
Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what research has been undertaken into vitrification in European Community countries.

Mr. Fox

[pursuant to his reply, 17 March 1980, c. 75]: Vitrification processes are at an advanced stage of development in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Research is also in progress in Italy. The CEC collaborative research programme on radioactive waste management includes a small programme on the physical and chemical characteristics of the various glass products. In France the PIVER process was developed to the point of medium scale active operation between 1969 and 1973. Since then, effort has concentrated on the larger scale AVM process in which high-level waste solution is dried in a rotating tube furnace and then melted with glass forming materials in an inductively heated furnace. The AVM plant at Marcoule commenced active operation in 1979.

In the United Kingdom, the FINGAL process was developed to the point of a small-scale active operation in the 1960s. The HARVEST process, which was developed from it, is now at the stage of successful operation of a full-size inactive plant. HARVEST is a single stage process in which liquid waste and glass forming materials are fed directly into an electrically heated steel pot where they melt to form a glass.

land accepted responsibility for securing accommodation in each of the years 1975–1978, and in the first half of 1979. Figures for 1975–1977 were not collected on the same basis as those for later years and are thus not directly comparable.

In collaboration with the Eurochemic company in Belgium, a German company has developed the PAMELA process in which high level liquid waste is introduced with glass forming materials into a furnace and the product is removed in the form of small glass granules. These granules are then incorporated into a metal block which protects them and conducts away the heat generated by their radioactive decay. PAMELA is still at the inactive pilot plant stage.