Kalkar's sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor prototype, a bad joke (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.

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Basic Data
NameKalkar's sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor prototype, a bad joke (Germany)
ProvinceNorth-Rhine Westfalia
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Nuclear waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAs 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.

Kalkar is near the Dutch border (Nijmegen), not far from Duisburg and Dusseldorf in Germany.

In 1995 the Dutch businessman Henny van der Most bought the US$5 billion ruins of Kalkar for about about US2.5 million (although the exact figure was never disclosed). Once reconstruction work was finished, people are to climb the cooling tower and to dive in the reactor core, and lots more fun!

As reported in the technical press, the status of the Kalkar nuclear power plant in early summer 1986 was that, apart from later alterations to the workshop building, the assembly and nonnuclear commissioning work has practically been completed. From a technical point of view, nuclear commissioning of the plant could begin, but vital factors for this were the necessary nuclear licenses. The final decision to scrap the Kalkar project was made in 1991 after construction had been finished five years earlier. It could never begin operation because the government of Northrhein-Westfalia refused the last license. Kalkar had been one of the main focal points of resistance against nuclear power in Germany during the 70s and 80s.
Project Area (in hectares)50
Level of Investment (in USD)4,000,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population1,000,000
Start Date1971
End Date1991
Company Names or State Enterprises Interatom from Germany
Siemens from Germany
Relevant government actorsGovernment of West Germany (Willy Brandt, prime minister)

Government of Nord Rhein Wesphalen

Constitutional Court of West Germany
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBürger initiative Kalkar-Hönnepel (from 1971)


Green militants

Weltbund zum Schutz des Lebens

Öko-Institut, Freiburg (founded after the anti-nuclear Wyhl struggle)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
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
OtherPotential 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-economic ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Displacement, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesThe Kalkar breeder reactor was not built. The present amusement park at the site is a joke.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

Kalkar Case I (1978) – 49 BVerfGE 89, translated by Donald P. Kommers
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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).
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Alice Siegert, Europe building fast breeder reactor, The Chicago Tribune, 1 August 1977
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Media Links

WISE, Then and Now. Nuclear Monitor Issue: #499-500
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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.
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Other Documents

Kalkar amusement park
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Meta Information
Contributorjoan martinez alier
Last update03/08/2016