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Wednesday, 4 April 1984
Page: 1198


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy. I refer to the Minister's reply today on the alleged differences between this Department and him on nuclear waste disposal. I ask: Is there any waste disposal technique other than vitrification in commercial use today? If so , what is it and where is it located? If vitrification is the only method fully developed, is there any other technique fully proven in laboratory research and ready for commercial implementation? Again, if so, what is that technique? Is the Swedish technique, which the Minister has supported, developed beyond the research stage and proven? Is not the vitrification scheme dependent on a long cooling period of up to 30 years in above ground silos? Is it not a further fact that, until the cooling process occurs, the canisters cannot be buried in the ground because of the danger that vitreous materials tend to leach in the presence of heat and water? Does not this fully confirm the submission of his Department?


Senator WALSH —Senator Sir John Carrick asked a large number of questions. I am not sure whether I have got them all down. The first question was whether any technique other than vitrification is in commercial use. Strictly speaking, I do not think it is correct to say that vitrification is in commercial use, let alone any other technique, because with all of the known possibilities, to my knowledge it is necessary to have a prolonged period of thermal cooling and substantial-


Senator Sir John Carrick —Except synroc, which is proven.


Senator WALSH —Except-


Senator Sir John Carrick —Mr President, because the Minister has an obvious voice disability I would be very happy to accept a written reply. I think this is a serious subject. To save him any difficulty I suggest that he give me a written reply.


The PRESIDENT —I think that is sensible in view of the Minister's disability.