The Billion Dollar Nuclear Plant From The 70s That Was Never Used

Grace Higgins | July 29th, 2020

Located in Zwentendorf in Austria, there is a nuclear power plant from a forgotten era, one where nuclear power was being championed around the world. The only thing is, this plant has never once split an atom – it was never turned on. It is Austria’s first and only ever a nuclear power station, but it was never used. Built during the 1970s during the height of the bright nuclear future of power, the Zwetendorf power plant should have generated enough electricity to power millions of homes – instead, it never produced any electricity.

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The entire vision of the project was shut down by public outcry even though it cost the government over a billion euros to complete. At the time it was entirely modern with a state of the art water reactor and a huge chimney tower. The facility even got so far as setting up the radioactive nuclear rods, it was completely ready to start operations, all that was required was to press the button. Then the public decided otherwise.

Anti-nuclear sentiment exploded to such a point that in 1978, the Austrian government decided to have a referendum. It split the population in two, but just over 50% banned all nuclear power plants from Austria. In one sweep the Austrian government vision of a nuclear-powered future ended. After the law passed the company kept the plant ready for a couple of years, they were certain the politicians would simply change their minds.

But after a while, it was clear that was not going to happen so they tried to dismantle the power plant and sell it for parts. However this was not a very successful scheme and today the nuclear power plant is still sitting there as it was built, 99% intact. Today the compound is used primarily in the film industry, being one of the only nuclear power plants that can be used for any type of film shooting due to it not having any radioactive danger.

Furthermore, space is used for the security training of nuclear scientists. You can even buy a guided tour or you may end up at a music festival held there annually. Today the plant is owned by a different energy company ENZ, who has set up a solar power plant on the location. They believe the site is still a prime location for a power plant, so will use it with new eco-friendly power-producing systems in the future.

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