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China’s huge unfinished underground nuclear facility

816 Underground Nuclear Plant  This top secret Chinese military megaproject is the world’s largest human-made tunnel structure.   Atlas  Obscura, Outside a remote village in the Chinese countryside, a cold wind blows from the mouth of a cavernous military nuclear facility drilled deep into the roots of an ancient Chinese mountain.

In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War and amid rising tension between the Soviet and Chinese governments, the Chinese Communist Party began relocating its military installations inland, away from major targets in the large coastal cities. The 816 Nuclear Reactor was Communist China’s first foray into building its own nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium without Soviet assistance.

To further protect against a nuclear attack, Premier Zhou Enlai approved a project that called for building the reactor underground, adding an extra layer of complexity to an already difficult engineering process. For the following 18 years, more than 60,000 workers were dispatched to an isolated base in the remote Sichuan mountains, at that time only reachable by boat. The tunnels were dug using only small drills, shovels, and dynamite, and official figures state that at least 100 workers died due to the harsh and dangerous working conditions, although it is suspected that the actual number is much higher.

Due largely to the changing circumstances of the Cold War, the project was abruptly called off in 1984, with construction of the doomed project only 85 percent completed. For 26 years, the site lay mostly abandoned, used for storage and as a fertilizer factory, before opening its doors to Chinese tourists in 2010………https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/816-underground-nuclear-plant

October 17, 2019 - Posted by | China, history, technology

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