asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what research has been undertaken by his Department into the process of vitrification.
The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority developed a vitrification process to the pilot plant stage some years ago. This was the "Fingal" process. More recently, the Department has taken responsibility for funding a full-scale non-radioactive plant, known as "Harvest" at Harwell. The objective of this work is to investigate radiological protection aspects and to optimise the processing conditions. Other work funded by the Department at Harwell is directed towards investigating advanced vitrification techniques. BNFL is carrying out a substantial development and design programme aimed at the installation of a production-scale vitrification plant at the Windscale works. The specifications for that plant have not yet been determined. Vitrification promises to provide a very satisfactory method of solidifying high level liquid radioactive waste. The Department has also initiated a review of other potential methods of solidification being investigated in France, Australia and the United States of America.