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Kalkar's sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor prototype, Germany

The SNR-300, a prototype fast breeder reactor to be built at Kalkar, near the Rhine, was not put into operation because of strong protests. The site and some buildings were turned into Wunderland Kalkar, an amusement park.


Between 1957 and 1991, West Germany tried to build a fast breeder reactor, a 300 MW prototype near Kalkar, on the Rhine. It was known as the SNR-300, the Schneller Natriumgekühlter Reaktor, i.e. to be cooled by Sodium, and as dangerous as the one at the Superphenix at Creys-Malville in France that was also closed down after being built at great expense. Construction began in April 1973.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Kalkar's sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor prototype, Germany
State or province:North-Rhine Westfalia
Location of conflict:Kleve
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Nuclear power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity
Nuclear waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

As reported by WISE (News Communiqe 100): In 1981 police violence stopped construction of anti-nuclear village at Kalkar. People planned to build a summer anti-nuclear village near the construction site of the fast breeder reactor at Kalkar (Germany). Plans, however, had to be postponed because the police kept confiscating their building materials. Twelve protesters were injured by police attacks during those days. In total, 800 activists participated in the festival. Construction of the sodium-cooled fast breeder in Kalkar had begun in 1973 as a project of West Germany (72%), Netherlands and Belgium (both 14%). In 1977, 50,000 people had demonstrated against the fast breeder project.

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Project area:50
Level of Investment for the conflictive project4,000,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:1,000,000
Start of the conflict:1971
End of the conflict:1991
Company names or state enterprises: Interatom from Germany
Siemens from Germany
Relevant government actors:Government of West Germany (Willy Brandt, prime minister)
Government of Nord Rhein Wesphalen
Constitutional Court of West Germany
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bürger initiative Kalkar-Hönnepel (from 1971)
Green militants
Weltbund zum Schutz des Lebens
Öko-Institut, Freiburg (founded after the anti-nuclear Wyhl struggle)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsPotential risk of nuclear accident
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Displacement, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Kalkar breeder reactor was not built. The present amusement park at the site is a joke.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Grassroots opposition, political opposition, the Chernobyl accident (1986) and the very large cost overruns, all had an influence in giving up the ill-considered plans to build a breeder-reactor. Kalkar must be seen as one of the German early successful cases of opposition to nuclear energy, together with Wyhl (near Freiburg). .
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Kalkar Case I (1978) – 49 BVerfGE 89, translated by Donald P. Kommers
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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Joachim Radkau, Eine kurze Geschichte der deutschen Antiatomkraftbewegung, APUZ, 46-47, 2011 (an account over 40 years of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany until its victory in 2011 after Fukushima, including one page on Kalkar).
[click to view]

Alice Siegert, Europe building fast breeder reactor, The Chicago Tribune, 1 August 1977
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

WISE, Then and Now. Nuclear Monitor Issue: #499-500
[click to view]

In Le Monde, 9 Nov. 2011, an article describing the movement from Wyhl (success) to Brokdorf (defeat) and Kalkar (success), and Gorleben. The German anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:joan martinez alier
Last update03/08/2016
Conflict ID:2376
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