A couple of weeks ago, I had the joy of knowing Germay would be closing its nuclear plants. And now, I've read this great article at Spiegel, one old atomic plant converted into an amusing park.
From Spiegel on line, an excerpt and pictures:
In the early 1970s, construction began in Germany on what was supposed to be the world's most technologically advanced nuclear power plant. But public protests and nuclear disasters elsewhere kept the plant from ever going online -- and then a Dutch developer with a dream arrived on the scene.
As far as the Germans are concerned, only a Dutchman could buy a nuclear power plant and transform it into an amusement park.
The complex in Kalkar wasn't just any old nuclear power plant, but rather a multi-billion-deutsche mark national symbol-turned-boondoggle. After initially being touted as proof of the ingenuity of German engineers, it then went on to symbolize the power of youthful resistance and, finally, the absurdity of political decision-making. Indeed, after being built for 8 billion deutsche marks (€4.1 billion; $5.9 billion), the complex known locally as "der Brüter" ("the breeder") was destined never to go online. In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, it stood idle for years because nobody wanted to have anything to do with the enormous mountain of concrete. The plant went into partial operation in 1985, but it never received nuclear materials.
Dreams from Abroad
Then everything changed. Karl-Heinz Rottman, 57, a former employee, recounts how he and his colleagues were just about to eat lunch together in 1995 when Dutch developer Hennie van der Most drove up. At the time, Rottman says, morale among the workers was low and they were full of disappointment. But then this white-haired man got out of his black Mercedes and said: "Hi, I'm Hennie. I'm gonna buy everything here." Rottman says his first thought was: "Sure, go for it."
And that's just what Hennie did. The son of a farmer and junk dealer from rural Holland borrowed a couple of million deutsche marks to buy the nuclear power plant that had been heralded as a source of infinite energy for the industrial age. Its uranium core was supposed to produce more plutonium than the reactor needed, meaning that it could forever produce energy that was as clean and safe as possible.
But instead of getting the reactor up and running, Hennie began to gut the place. Massive amounts of circuitry, pumps, turbine and other equipment landed on the trash heap. The engineers who had settled in the area could hardly bear to watch as their creation was destroyed. And the job was massive -- in order to be able to respond to worst-case scenarios involving multiple failures, nuclear power plants have three and sometimes even five sets of duplicate back-up systems. Even now, 15 years later, only a third of the reactor has been converted into amusement park.
Read the article by Jorg Diehl: