• How does COVRA process radioactive waste?

    The radioactive waste to be treated in the low and intermediate-level waste processing building can take different forms.

    Solid compactable waste
    This waste is contained in 100 litre drums and is compressed into small packages. These go into a larger drum, surrounded by a layer of about five centimetres thick concrete. This concrete blocks most of the radiation and ensures that no radioactive substances can get out of the container during storage. If the radiation level in these concrete drums is too high, they are placed in a concrete container. This concrete container is about twenty centimetres thick and blocks more radiation.

    Solid non-compactable waste
    Due to the composition of the waste (steel or a lot of plastic material), it must not or cannot be compacted. Drums containing this type of waste are directly placed in a larger drum and encapsulated in concrete.

    Radioactive sources
    These are stored together in a source collection vessel and encapsulated in concrete.

    Liquid waste
    We use two different routes for the processing of this waste. We can burn organic liquids in an incinerator where the gases are filtered. These filters are then processed as solid compactable waste since they contain the dust particles. Inorganic liquids are removed from the solid radioactive substances by means of biological cleaning and microfiltration. The remaining slurry is dried to a solid mass and then processed as solid, compactable waste.

    Incidental waste
    These are radioactive objects that need to be reduced in size before they can be further processed. This process takes place in a special shredding room. After the size reduction, the waste is placed in a container for compactable solid radioactive waste and further processed.

  • If the waste is encapsulated in concrete, does this mean that no radiation is emitted?

    Radiation is energy and collides with the material it encounters. The radiation from the waste is partially or completely blocked by collisions with the concrete. This depends on the energy the radiation emits. Drums for which no radiation can be measured on the outside after processing must also be stored since they still contain radioactivity.

  • What happens to the waste contained in concrete?

    These drums are transported to the storage facilities for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste, where they are stored. How long they are stored depends on the rate of reduction in radioactivity, also known as half-life.

  • What does COVRA do with high-level radioactive waste?

    The high-level radioactive waste is delivered in very sturdy transport containers that can withstand any possible accident during transport. The high-level radioactive waste from the Borssele nuclear plant is transported to COVRA from the reprocessing plant in France. There, the useful components of the spent nuclear fuel are recycled (95%). The remaining waste (5%) is mixed in liquid glass and poured into a stainless steel packaging, after which it is sent to COVRA.

    The spent nuclear fuel elements of research reactors and the waste from medical isotope production are not reprocessed, but sent straight to COVRA. These packages are removed from the transport containers, checked, measured and if necessary, repackaged. The waste is then stored in the HABOG’s bunkers.