Moscow: The first nuclear power plant in the world, which showcased the peaceful uses of atomic energy to the world, especially during the Cold War era, turns 60 this week.
Launched on June 26, 1954, then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, who also strongly batted for India`s peaceful use of nuclear energy, visited the Obninsk plant.
When the plant was to be set up, the government started looking for an apt location and zeroed down on a village called Pyatkino, some 150 kms from Moscow.
The design for the plan started in 1950 and construction started a year later. The reactor AM-1 (Atom Mirny) was built in only 9 months.
One of the leading forces behind the establishment of plant was Igor Kurchatov, known as the father of the Soviet Atomic Weapons Programme. Despite this, the nuclear physicist was keen to use atomic energy for the benefit of "mankind".
On June 26, 1954 at 5.45 pm the world`s first nuclear plant took commercial load, with electric generator power of 1500 kw. On June 27, commissioning of nuclear plant was announced.
The plant, with a capacity of 5 MW was, used to supply the town with electricity. But as new forays were made in the field of nuclear energy not only by Russia, but also by other countries, the reactor became economically inviable and decision to shut the plant was taken.
The plant closed in 2002. Interestingly, the person who started it in 1954, switched it off.
"The plant had to be shut down not for technical reasons but economic reasons. The capacity of the plant was just 5MW. Although it worked well, its main motto was to use it as an experimental base for medicine and space," said an official.
The Russian government now plans to build a museum at the site. The plant sees around 2,000 visitors every year. It is already an educational institution and conducts programmes for children and students.