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Wednesday, 4 November 1992
Page: 2658

(Question No. 1957)


Mr Langmore asked the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, upon notice, on 15 September 1992:

  (1) What stages are involved in the RAN's vacation of the Belconnen Communications Station and what is the timetable for achieving each stage.

  (2) What information is held about toxic waste on the site occupied by the Station.


Mr Bilney —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

  (1) Based on present planning the individual stages would be to:

  (a) determine a long term disposal strategy for the site in consultation with the ACT Government; discussions have already commenced on this subject.

  (b) determine a definitive disposal strategy for release of the site, likely to commence in 1998.

  (c) relocate the existing functions to the new Naval Communications Station in the Riverina Region presently planned to occur in 1999.

  (d) remove the existing infrastructure and determine any site rehabilitation needs. These are likely to be completed in 2000.

  (e) sale of the property to commence in 2000.

  (2) Poly Chloro Biphenyls (PCBs) are the only known toxic material being handled on site in sealed containers, forming part of the operating equipment. A management plan is in place to progressively replace the amount of PCBs in operating equipment and the components in store by non-PCB components. The disposal of equipment items containing PCBs is carried out by Department of Administrative Services (DAS) under contractual arrangement and the items are transported in an approved container to an approved DAS storage facility off-site. Action is in hand by the Chief of Logistics, Naval Support Command, to ultimately dispose of all components containing PCBs in the near future.

  A survey has been conducted recently to determine if there has been any PCB contamination in the soil and ground water in the vicinity of the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station (BNTS) and some small areas of low level contamination have been detected. The current status of the station is that Defence is waiting for an advice from the ACT Department of the Environment, Land and Planning concerning the significance of this contamination with reference to ACT planning considerations. Further action by Defence is dependent on their advice.