26 The World’s First Nuclear Power Plant

The World’s First Nuclear Power Plant

Posted on July 7, 2009 by

Oldest Nuclear Power Plant

We all got used to the nuclear power plants, even if having some precautions of the phenomena itself they look like have been here for quite a while. But when did this nuclear energy extraction thing has started?

The first nuclear power plant has been built in Russia or Soviet Union as it was called at that times. It has been built in high hush-hush mode, even the construction workers on site didn’t know what exactly they were doing there.

Then on June 27th, 1954 Russian radio stations knocked over their listeners across the vast country and worldwide when they broadcasted the news like “In Soviet Union, thanks to the joint effort of scientists and engineers the construction of the world’s first nuclear power plant with an output power of 5000 kW. The power plant construction has been completed and already produced electricity for the local Soviet agricultural objects”.

Today let’s see how this shrine of nuclear power looks in our days.

Oldest Nuclear Power Plant 1

The name of the station still stays the same. It’s being officialy called “The First Nuclear Power Plant”.

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The history of the atomic energy had deep roots in the times before the World War 2, long before the June 1954, the day when the first workable plant has started working. They had called this project “The Peaceful Atom” and so was the called the reactor of the first nuclear power plant. This site was the joint effort of the thousands of prominent Russian scientists and engineers and was built in record short terms, it took only three years from scheming the projects to actual location fully constructed.

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So, today, in order to get inside you got to get the white gown.

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The great experience Russian scientist got from constucting the first nuclear power plant gave a big push for the development of Soviet atomic energy program. The reactor itself was built with a lot of “debugging” possibilities on purpose, so that scientists could have a lot of experimental material available.

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At that time all the Soviet newspapers also joined the congratulational hype across the country. International media also couldn’t pass by the sensational news from the Evil Empire.

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The main control point of the plant looks bit small if being compared to its contemorary brothers on the modern power plants.

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It’s pity but every detail here is already being touched by unmerciful hand of The Time: everything is being wear out, and it’s not a surprise – the power plant has worked a lot. It has to be stopped at 1984, but those were the years when the great changes sprung in Russia so many of the “planned” events never took place, as well as the need in cheap electricity was vital in those years, so it worked for eighteen years more than it was scheduled to it by the original plan and was stopped only recently, in year 2002.

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And that’s the chamber of the mighty reactor, now resting quitely after being in work for so many years in a row and showing the way to all his modern brothers reactors on the nuclear power plants across the world.

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Some protective slabs that were forming one protective shield are now being dismantled and lay nearby in stacks.

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And those were the storage cells for the atomic fuel capsules.

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The fuel capsules with Uriniaum were transported in place with this special crane. Because of excessive radiation levels while on this job the crane has extra thick walls and the 50 cm (20 inch) thick quarz glass so that the operator could visually control the process of transportation. They didn’t have the video cams at that times.

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Now we have a chance to look thru those 20 inch thick windows too to see what has the crane driver seen back in 1954 loading uranium capsules into the world’s first reactor, though we couldn’t get a clue of what he felt doing that.

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Now the station stays quite and forgotten. From time to time the lucky ones can get permission from “MinAtom” – the Russian department dealing with all “Peaceful Atom” locations to get a trip there.

photo credits: Chistoprudov & Ilya Varlamov

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26 responses to “The World’s First Nuclear Power Plant”

  1. too much vodka says:


  2. nuclear chem tech says:


  3. meh says:

    “Now we have a chance to look thru those 20 inch thick windows too to see what has the crane driver seen back in 1954 loading uranium capsules”…

    The unspent fuel rods/capsules are harmless. You would not even need the crane. They become lethal when the fuel is spent and new more dangerous isotopes form.

  4. zzz says:

    very nice report.

  5. PMarc says:

    While the russian claim of “first nuclear power plant” seemms undisputed, I thought worthwhile to mention that the first nuclear reactor was built by the team led by Enrico Fermi in 1942 at University of Chicago.

    There is however this “World’s first nuclear power plant” claim by the americans, according to wikipedia, at the site of the EBR-I, which is now a museum near Arco, Idaho. This experimental LMFBR operated by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission produced 0.8 kW in a test on December 20, 1951 and 100 kW (electrical) the following day, having a design output of 200 kW (electrical).

    • Sumar says:

      Those two claims were never confirmed, US government cites that it had to keep them secret

      Well too bad, Russia kept it secret too and revealed it earlier for everyone to see, hence Soviets get the credit

  6. Asad says:

    Who is the cool dude in the beard?

  7. Spooker says:

    Read that this plant indeed was the first one, however I read also that was most propaganda than a real deal. Because it was underpowered and consumed more energy to operate than its real output.

    However the first practical approach to provide energy from nuclear origin to a city is undisputable a soviet triumph (more propagandistical than real)

  8. The first nuclear power plant ran on University of Chicago campus (chicago pile 1) twelve years before this one opened; the first industrial plant nearly two full years before this one in Idaho (EBR-1); the first commercial nearly 18 months before this in Cumbria (Calder Hall, which despite what Wikipedia says was feeding the grid long before this did).

    The only way this is a first is if you restrict yourself to reactors tied to the grid, but measure by when the building was completed, rather than when it started actually feeding the grid.

    Please do some research next time.

  9. Some guy says:

    “But when did this nuclear energy extraction thing has started?”

    I stopped reading there, please proof read your work.

  10. pimp says:

    Nuclear energy is like a drunk Russian, unstable.

  11. CZenda says:

    I guess the bearded weirdo is a ghost of the crane operator. Failing that, a KGB agent supposed to keep an eye on the nuclear power station personnel who got lobotomed after being subjected to enormous doses of radioactivity and vodka.

  12. The People says:

    The First Nuclear Power Plant for president!

  13. cm says:

    Looks in pretty good shape, specially considering it’s age and the state of other soviet equipement (subs, etc.).

  14. Mariska says:

    This is so cool! I bet it would still be functionable =D

  15. DAnNZ says:

    Magic 16!!! yeeya

  16. aes fan says:

    1942 – Chicago Pile CP1 – First controlled chain reaction in a nuclear reactor, 0.5 watt , (US)
    1951 – EBR1 – Idaho – First electricity generating nuclear reactor , 200 kW, (US)
    1954 – Obninsk AM1 – Atom Mirny Piervy – First Nuclear Power Plant , 5 MW,(Russia)
    1956 – Calder Hall 1 – First Commercial Nuclear Power Plant, 50 MW, (England)

  17. Ale says:

    You are all wrong. The first critical nuclear fission “reactor” was a natural uranium deposit called the “Oklo” deposit. Went critical during precambrian period.


  18. Ants Baits says:

    Wow, Some rare to see pictures of this power plant with rich history. Thanks for sharing.

  19. An interesting article, amazing !!!

  20. Frank says:

    I liked the article, and thought it was very interesting. Thank you.

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