Zwentendorf, located 40 kms away from Vienna, is an unusual place. There is a huge nuclear plant here, the first plant

Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant, Austria

built in Austria. But it never operated, not even for a day. While the tsunami that devastated Japan’s nuclear power plants has forced the world to review the safety of nuclear power plants, Austria voted out nuclear plants 33 years ago.

On November 5, 1978, the start of Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant, as well as construction of five other plants, was prevented by a plebiscite when 50.47 per cent of Austrians voted against nuclear plants in their country. That sealed the fate of Zwentendorf, while its 3,000-odd residents heaved a sigh of relief, and Austria put off construction of five other nuclear plants that were in the planning stage.

Austrian President Heinz Fischer, during a conversation over nuclear energy with President Pratibha Patil today, said that the Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant is now a museum which nuclear science students and research scholars visit to see what a nuclear plant looks like. Mumbai-based PM Dimensions has leased it and it is used to train nuclear engineering students. About 50 students from India were here last month.
Austria never looked back on its November 1978 decision because five months later, on March 28, 1979, the Three-Mile Island accident occurred when there was a core meltdown in unit 2 of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station at Dauphine County, Pennsylvania, US.

Construction at Zwentendorf began in April 1972 as a boiling-water reactor with 692 megawatts electric power output. It was built by a joint venture of several Austrian electric power companies. Portions of Zwentendorf are now owned and used by Austrian energy company EVN Group as a Solar Power Plant.

Austria which had passed a law in 1978 prohibiting fission reactors for power generation has opted for thermal power since then. As its national policy, Austria opposes nuclear energy in all its international dealings. However, it imports nuclear energy from neighbouring countries.


Courtesy: Indian Express