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will be done


The arguments The facts The incident The end!?

How was it back then with the THTR?

by Werner Neubauer

In the early 1980s, an acquaintance who was active in the local 'anti-nuclear movement' asked me whether I would like to go to a demonstration against the THTR. My 'interest in politics' was very limited and I never have enough time anyway, but this man had really good ones Arguments and just wouldn't give up. Eventually, it must have been one of my weaker days, he actually made it and I jogged along. It was a sunny spring Sunday so why not go for a walk and see a nuclear power plant up close; there are truly boring things.

This walk was then also quite interesting and pleasant, some people looked a bit daring, but there were also quite 'normal citizens' with them. So we looked at each other with wide eyes and some of these exotic creatures must have thought "Well, what a mess ... hopefully no one will see me here" ;-)

Be that as it may, I found this mixture of Christians, atheists, political, apolitical, convinced and doubters not uninteresting, entertained me well and therefore had nothing against repeating the walk on one of the following Sundays.

The resistance was often a lonely event, especially on rainy days. Sunday walk in the rain - three resisters and about 12 policemen in five police cars

Soon I began to be interested in the real reason for these Sunday walks and to get information about the technical details of this nuclear power plant, which is awe-inspiring due to its sheer size - with its 3 meter high concrete wall reminiscent of a fortress. The information texts from HKG (Hoch Temperatur-Kernkraftwerk GmbH) were rather meager, but from every sentence spoke the certainty 'We have everything under control, let's take it easy'.

Nothing to swear to the engineer ...

Very worrying for me, because during my training as a materials tester I had often faced the same mentality and knew from experience that the more arrogant you gentlemen, the less your conscience is your own.

They seem to be the first to learn how to delegate responsibility to others.

This rather diffuse, uneasy feeling and numerous conversations with so-called people in charge made me become more and more suspicious and one thing became more and more clear to me - I need to know more - because I didn't want to be taken for a fool or taken for a fool because I probably only had insufficient specialist knowledge .

So I delved into the matter as best I could and soon saw where the weak points in the arguments for nuclear energy were and still are today.

The arguments The facts The incident The end!?

Arguments against the nuclear industry:


Murphy's Law (analogous):

If something can go wrong, it will eventually go wrong.


1.) The completely unclear disposal of radioactive waste

Who can put their hand in the fire for the development of the situation in the next 5, 50 or even 50.000 years?

2.) Man

This unpredictable but all-important factor 'human' has apparently not been included in any of your considerations. In theory everything may be clear, but in practice people have a hand in the game and how you know when a mistake, a mishap or a donkey happens says human:

Oh sorry, I'm really sorry, but I did my best and therefore can't be held responsible...

3.) The insurance cover for nuclear facilities is not nearly sufficient

Amazingly or not, there is insufficient insurance coverage for Akws. Insuring the operation of a nuclear power plant to a sufficient extent would entail such high insurance premiums that the operation of a nuclear power plant would no longer be worthwhile.

The 'Insurance forums Leipzig GmbH' had already in 2011, on behalf of 'BEE - Federal Association for Renewable Energy', a comprehensive'Study of insurance needs for nuclear power plants' submitted.
(The KKW study as a PDF file)

The estimated amount of damage to a Super disaster in Europe is, depending on the scenario, between 100 and 430 billion euros.
(Study on the extent of damage as a pdf file)

Most Akws in Europe are, however, only with under 1 billion € insured. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the insured amount of damage is € 1,2 billion and in Germany € 2,5 billion per nuclear power plant; in the USA, at around $ 10 billion per nuclear power plant, it looks only marginally better.

No car should be moved even one meter on the road with such a lousy liability insurance.

4.) Extremely high risk potential, also for democracy

The information war, a war against the free flow of information, is in full swing. All nine nuclear-weapon states and many other repressive states stand firmly together and fight against freedom of the press to keep information under MIK's control.

Every nuclear power plant and every single Castor transport must be constantly guarded or escorted by security forces due to the high risk potential. Every nuclear facility is a further step on the way to becoming a police state.

Once an anti-aircraft gun is part of every nuclear power plant, it will no longer be necessary to discuss whether that is Use of the military in their own country is desirable or not.

Despots build and love nuclear power plants, because they can use the uranium economy as a means of maintaining power.

"We do everything we can to promote development and progress..."

Any repression against critics and those who think differently is justified with such pithy sayings.

The opposition is suppressed and lots of tax money is diverted.

For nuclear power and the uranium economy, first the rule of law and, in the end, democracy will be sacrificed!


What is striking is the 'affinity for nuclear power' among the right-wing parties.

Who actually finances the "New Right"? Putin? MIC? A few harmless ones rich patrons from Switzerland!?

Many questions and only a few answers.


5.) There is no peaceful or civil use of nuclear energy!

Energy-producing civil nuclear reactors provide the material the military needs to build atomic bombs.

Any civilian research in the field of nuclear energy can also be used by the military (dual use), basically a covert increase in the military budget.

That was the purpose of the event from the beginning:

To have the immense costs of nuclear research, from uranium production and enrichment, to the conditioning and storage of nuclear waste - including the costs that arise from military use - borne by the civilian population.

Meanwhile, the population was told the fairy tale of unlimited and cheap energy. And so there is, up to the present day, for the Construction of nuclear reactors only one really decisive reason: the production of highly enriched material (HEU - highly enriched uranium) for military use.

MIC - The military-industrial complex

Already warned of the harmful influence of the military industry on civil society Ex-General and US President Eisenhower on January 17.01.1961th, XNUMX:

“We in the institutions of government have to protect ourselves from unauthorized influence - intentional or unintentional - by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the catastrophic increase in misdirected forces is there and will continue to exist. We must never allow the power of this combination to endanger our freedoms or our democratic processes. We shouldn't take anything for granted. Only vigilant and informed citizens can force the gigantic industrial and military defense machinery to be properly networked with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and freedom can grow and flourish together. "

Information booth in the VEW parking lot

At some point there were more people in front of the information stands than behind.

The arguments The facts The incident The end!?

THTR facts

The idea of ​​using graphite spheres instead of fuel rods was suggested by Dr. Rudolf Schulten - like that Legend - developed in the 1950s. However, the fact is that Leo Szilard talked about fuel balls as early as the 1930s and Farrington Daniels 1942 the concept of the pebble bed reactor Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) developed in Tennessee!

In 1967 the first prototype of a 'Pebble bed reactor', the AVR Jülich with a rated output of 15 megawatts. The AVR was also supposed to be working properly until the AVR incident from May 13-22, 1978 approx. 25 tons of water seeped into the reactor ...?!

Construction work on the THTR-300 in Hamm/Uentrop began in 1970 and was supposed to be finished 5 years later, but it was 15 years. When the preliminary operating license was granted in 1985, the construction costs had increased from the planned DM 0,69 billion to around 4 billion DM gone up.

An end to the destruction of taxpayers' money is still not in sight:

The cost of maintenance and safe containment of the THTR amounts to 5,1 million euros annually, which are borne 50% each by the federal and state governments. Further EUR 0,5 million repository advance payments each year the federal government, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the HKG share a third.

The financing of the phase from the decommissioning decision in September 1989 to the end of 2004 comprises a total of EUR 391,8 million, broken down as follows: the federal government pays EUR 112,1 million, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia pays EUR 131,0 million and the shareholders of HKG pays EUR 148,7 million.

These figures are from a letter from the Ministry of Finance in North Rhine-Westphalia on April 02.04.2005nd, XNUMX.

See in Newsletter no .: 99 from 2005, the article:

THTR nuclear waste is getting more and more expensive!

Will we be able to find out the amount of the actual costs at some point?

Due to the X different budget items at X different federal and state ministries, the actual amount of the sum is still not really manageable for me!

We now know that subsidies have flowed from over since the 1950s 200 billion euros into the German nuclear industry. (As of 2016)

"Cleaning up behind them" will at least cost the taxpayer more 100 billion euros costs!

There were 21 reportable incidents at the THTR

spherical fuel assemblyHorst Blume researched all disruptions, including the uncounted "non-reportable incidents" to date, and THTR breakdown list were collected.

Damage to the graphite balls should actually be kept within narrow limits, one counts 1 up to 2 broken bullets per year.

But then between 1985 and 1987 17.000 balls broken.

The resulting bullet breakage - radioactive graphite dust - had to be extracted and stored every time, or is still in the reactor in unknown quantities and makes the dismantling of the nuclear power plant even more difficult and unpredictably more expensive ...

Two reports on HTR technology by

Lothar Hahn from the years: 1986 - Study on the subject of HTR safety and 1988 - Study on the subject of HTR and proliferation

2008 - the Moormann study A scientist from Jülich takes stock.

Mirror 2009 - Dismantling of the AVR in Jülich

The arguments The facts The incident The end!?

reportable incident - INES level 0

Ordinary people like me would call it a "glitch".

The incident, with which the operators of the THTR-300 lost the favor of the governing SPD in NRW, happened in the night of 4th to 5th May 1986. The radioactive cloud emanating from the radiant reactor ruins in Chernobyl (INES 7 disaster on April 26, 1986) lay over Europe.

Billboard designed by Fritz Brümmer - Chernobyl -

This billboard was designed in 1986 by the draftsman Fritz Brümmer.

The loading of the THTR in Hamm-Uentrop should actually be automatic - exactly 60 new graphite fuel balls should be added by the automatic system at the top and 60 'old' balls should be removed at the bottom.

On the evening of May 4, 1986, one of the fuel element spheres had jammed in the pipe system of the loading system and was not moving backwards or forwards. The technician tried to pull the broken bullet out of the pipe using gas pressure to be conveyed into the reactor. The flushing gas that was first blown was therefore clean, not radioactively contaminated Helium fresh from the storage tank and blown towards the reactor. But the gas pressure of the purge gas alone didn't seem strong enough, so the person at the control panel sent all the other 40 bullets after them, one after the other. The result of this action was 41 broken bullets and an open gas lock.

This gas lock was supposed to prevent the helium from escaping the tubes of the loading system and had become jammed, probably by the remains of the shattered bullets.

Now the technician opened - inadvertently - a valve of the primary cooling circuit. With the pressure of the radioactive helium from the cooling circuit of the reactor, it was possible to "engineer coincidence"to get the plant free and to blow the remains of the ruptured ball - including a hitherto unknown quantity of radiating graphite dust from the reactor combustion chamber - out of the reactor through the open gas lock.

The fact is: an unknown quantity of the contaminated graphite dust escaped from inside the reactor into the ambient air together with the helium, which was also contaminated.

According to the INES That's a smooth 3, serious accident!

Just at the time it was - inadvertently - also the only one available Measuring instrument switched off, so that afterwards no one could say how much radioactive material (radioactive graphite dust) had really been blown out.

It was all bad enough, but the crowning glory of this story was the HKG's attempt to keep this incident completely secret.

Then, when this mess could no longer be denied, it only became - inadvertently - presented as routine cleaning work and later as an unforeseeable mishap and operator error.

Only a few weeks later did the HKG slowly come across that it was probably a reportable incident, including the release of not inconsiderable amounts of radiation, which - inadvertently - had not been reported.

Addendum 2016

30 years later, prosecution had become impossible due to the statute of limitations, one of the ex-engineers claimed in one Wikipedia discussion post, the blowing out was done with full intention and on the instructions of the boss, among other things to get rid of the annoying graphite dust from the reactor into the Chernobyl cloud. Of course, the ex-boss sees it completely differently...


The study on the subject: Fundamental safety problems with the high-temperature reactor and particular deficits with the THTR-300 by Lothar Hahn in June 1986.

The reportable event in INES and the list of incidents.

As well as the contribution Sparkling eyes in SPIEGEL from June 09, 1986.


We don't know the truth, but we'd like to talk to people who do.

Do you know what happened on the weekend of May 04th and 05th, 1986 at the THTR in Hamm Uentrop?

Please call in: w.neubauer@ Reaktorpleite.de


Nobody believed the gentlemen in the gray suits, even one word.

Parents from Werries demand: Don't take the future away from our children

Parents from Hamm / Werries demand: Don't steal the future from our children!

In the summer of 1987 in front of the Paulus Church in Hamm

The arguments The facts The incident The end!?

The end!?

The accident described above on the 4th-5th As I said, May 1986 was the beginning of the end for the THTR in Hamm/Uentrop. The North Rhine-Westphalia state government was concerned that the disaster in one of the four nuclear power plant blocks in Chernobyl on April 26, 1986 had shaken even the most determined supporters of the peaceful use of nuclear energy to their core.

Incidentally, of these four chimneys, the smallest one, on the far left on the reactor roof, was the really dangerous one.

the little chimney on the far left is the dangerous one

About 6 times as much money had flowed into the THTR and the construction phase had lasted 3 times as long as planned, the operating company had proven to be only partially honest, the population rubbed their eyes and threatened to wake up.

VEW premises surrounded by human chains

The VEW was surrounded and crumbled.

For weeks the HKG had denied and covered up the incident and the leaked radiation, only clear measurement results from external institutes and various other factors (a secret, internal letter reached the public) forced the operating company to give up its 'never existed' strategy. This rather strategic relationship to the truth in the boardroom of the HKG then probably promoted the swing - in the right direction - among the politically responsible, after the four billion DM that had already been irretrievably lost, not another X billion DM in taxpayers' money to throw.

From the summer of 1986, after Chernobyl, more and more people came ...

In the summer of 1986 more and more people came to the THTR demos

So the “SPD reactor” THTR had to go. The supposed "per peto mobile" Kalkar alone, the most expensive technology museum in this country with construction costs of 7 billion DM, was more than enough of a problem for the comrades in North Rhine-Westphalia and then this unspeakable scandal in tranquil Hamm.

Funeral ceremony with grave decorations on the wall of the THTR when the closure was finally clear

... In 1989 the THTR was shut down. The dismantling will take decades and cost several million euros.

In 1991, the most modern cooling tower in Europe, located directly on the A2 Dortmund - Hanover motorway, was blown up.

1. It had simply become superfluous

2. Was it perhaps too obvious and too visible a reference to the hubris of the powerful and the waste of taxpayers' money


The sight of it, a monumental example of a failed large-scale technology, would probably have given some motorists undesirably critical thoughts while 'driving, driving, driving on the autobahn'! So now this pretty cooling tower is out of sight. It's a shame, actually, the cooling tower was the only safe thing about the whole nuclear power plant, because the cooling tower really only shone when the sun shone on the aluminum fur!

Despite all this, the game with the shining balls is not over yet; the failed construction of a THTR successor (PBMR) in South Africa was carried out until 2009 $ 980 million South African tax money wasted ...


Update South Africa

In 2024, South African leaders feel the public has forgotten everything, and so the debate is reignited:

March 25, 2024 - South Africa wants to become a global supplier of HTR fuel

In addition to preparing a tender for 2500 MW of new nuclear power plants "this calendar year", the Nuclear Energy Summit was told that South Africa is developing its Pebble Bed Modular Reactor technology and "deserves the opportunity to use the entire nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes"...

Translation with https://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)


Then as now the motto is:
Just don't let it get you down!


They want to build again in Uentrop and Schmehausen
and there is already a high fence around the site of the nuclear power plant.

But if the VEW thinks that we will see it
without defending ourselves, no, it won't work that way.

At the hearing they were friendly and nice,
but with the truth, they played hide-and-seek.

They probably wanted to catch us for their nuclear power plant,
but we, we tell everyone, we noticed it.

Stand on our side, a place will be occupied.
Here we protect ourselves from the dirt not tomorrow, but now!

And the prosecutor comes and the police come
and come at dawn - we don't care.

We are in agreement and are getting more and more
and when we come to an agreement, we don't mind anymore!

So hear the pharmacist speaking loudly and clearly:
There is medicine for many things, but not for radiation damage.

Stand on our side, a place will be occupied.
Here we protect ourselves from the dirt not tomorrow, but now!

Fiddle Michel: "The Watch on the Lip"


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