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Old Nuclear Plant In China Re-Opens As Tourist Attraction

Dorathy Gass

What was once a nuclear plant located in the Chongqing mountains in China has recently been re-opened as a tourist attraction for the area. China 816 Nuclear Military Plant is home to the largest man-made caves worldwide, and now can be marveled by the public, for all to see.

The Cold War-era process facility for weapons and plutonium began construction in 1967, and as per officials over 60,000 soldiers worked on the plant before it was closed in 1984. While it was open for a brief amount of time in 2010, it was closed once again, only to be recently opened with the idea of making it accessible to tourists around the globe who are visiting the area.

CNN advised that the facility is over 100,000 square meters and has 130 tunnel roads and 18 caves. Within the plant, there is a nuclear bomb display, with red, blue, and green tubular lights that are projected from the walls within the tunnels to add some ambience while visitors make their way through the facility. As guests walk around the attraction, they might notice rooms with reactor meters and historic Cold War-related displays.

Innovative green lighting in some areas highlight were radioactive processing happened, although it is important to note that anything that potentially was radioactive is now encased within protective glass. There are also areas within the facility that are not open to the public. In fact, only one-third of the plant is currently accessible to visitors, with plans to increase this and open sections of the facility, in the future.

Plaques adorn 816, where they feature Chinese communist legends, engineering heroes and additional Cold War notes; including one room with a glass box showcasing Chairman Mao red books and a nuclear gas mask as well as fallout bodysuits. One room in the facility also has a depression that equals out to an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

816 Nuclear Military Plant is located in Chongqing, also dubbed ‘River Town’ and is China’s largest municipality. Its population about 30 million people, and the facility itself is thirty minutes from Chongqing’s downtown core via train and a one-hour car ride into Fulin county. It overlooks the Wu River, resting in the hilltops.

The nuclear plant is one of a handful of attractions that Chongqing tourism officials have grouped in together, calling them “cave cool.” The caves are a vital component of the municipality’s history and culture, with some preserved for dining, tourism and entertainment; while others solely for scientific research.

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