COVRA understands the art of preservation, but it also preserves art. In addition to the HABOG and VOG-2, two of the largest works of art in the Netherlands, artists are also exhibiting in COVRA’s office building. Since 2005, exhibitions are organised there on a regular basis. Parts of the collections of Zeeland museums are also stored at COVRA. This way, we make art and radioactive waste accessible to a wider public.
What is the link between COVRA and art?
When was COVRA founded?
COVRA was founded in 1982. In the first ten years, the focus was on setting up the organisation and setting up the logistics process for radioactive waste. Vlissingen-Oost was chosen as the location to store all the Netherlands’ radioactive waste. In the years that followed, COVRA grew into a stable and expert organisation for the processing and storage of all kinds of radioactive waste.
What does COVRA do?
In the Netherlands, we produce about a thousand cubic metres of radioactive waste per year. Radioactive waste is produced by nuclear power plants, hospitals, research institutes and industry. To prevent radioactive waste from ending up in the environment, it is important that it is collected, processed and stored in a professional, safe manner. In the Netherlands, this is the responsibility of the Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste (Centrale Organisatie Voor Radioactief Afval, or COVRA).
Where is COVRA based?
COVRA is based in Zeeland. The branch is located in the port and industrial area of Vlissingen-Oost. The COVRA site is approximately 20 hectares in size. The site includes an office building with an information room, a waste processing building and five storage buildings.
Why do you have such a strikingly bright orange building?
HABOG stands for Hoog Radioactief Behandel- en Opslag Gebouw (High-level Radioactive Treatment and Storage Building). This is COVRA’s striking orange building in which we store high-level radioactive waste. The HABOG is one of the largest works of art in the Netherlands. Artist William Verstraeten has called this work of art ‘Metamorphosis’. Every twenty years we paint the building in a lighter shade of orange. This way, we depict the cooling of the waste inside the building, due to radioactive decay, on the outside.
What is the story behind the blue building on your site?
The blue building is VOG-2: the second storage building for depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is a by-product of processing natural uranium into a nuclear raw material: the enrichment of uranium. The stored depleted uranium in the building slowly decays. It steadily ticks time away like a big atomic clock. This is why the building is designed like a large clock, a sundial. The largest fixed sundial in Europe. The blue colour refers to the blue planet Uranus, after which the uranium is named. The planet was discovered nine years before uranium. The building has a grass roof, and from above it looks like a floating garden. As if the storage space was created by pulling it out of the ground like a drawer. Just like uranium is extracted from the ground as a mineral.