For a brief moment in the 1970s, it looked like the future of Austria’s power production was going to be in a handful of massive nuclear plants, before the entire vision was put down by a massive public outcry. However before the people could vote down their nuclear future, one plant was completely finished, they just never turned it on.
Completed in mid-to-late 1970s, the plant in Zwentendorf cost around a billion euro to complete. The tall, monolithic building was outfitted with a modern-at-the-time boiling water reactor complete with a huge chimney tower scraping the sky next to the central building. The facility was even outfitted with the dangerous radioactive nuclear rods, all it needed was the go-ahead to turn the lights on. Then the public had their say.
The Zwentendorf facility was just the first of a number of planned nuclear plants in the country, but anti-nuclear sentiment exploded during its construction. In a referendum passed in 1978, the Austrian people voted by a margin just over 50% to ban all nuclear power plants. And with that, the new plant was dead in the water.
Since the law was passed, the Zwentendorf plant was partially dismantled and the facility was used as a sort of spare parts warehouse for other compatible plants in Germany. In addition, the space has been used for film shooting and security training. However more than anything, the massive empty complex stands as a reminder of a pivotal moment in the country’s history.
Know Before You Go
There are limited tickets for free guided tours every Friday.