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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The unique features about Austria 1978 Referendum on Nuclear Power


  1. (November 13, 1998) Austria first nuclear power plant, at Zwentendorf, 35 kms west of the country capital, Vienna, had been completed and was ready for start-up.
  2. The Nov.5, 1978 referendum was the first national referendum in the so-called Second Republic (i.e. in post World War II Austria).
  3. First national and binding referendum on nuclear energy worldwide.
  4. First national nuclear (fission) energy prohibition act worldwide.
    (The Austrian Federal Law Forbidding Electricity Production from Nuclear Fission was voted in the Austrian Parliament on Dec.15, 1978.)
  5. Austria thus became the first industrialized nation saying good-bye to nuclear power.
  6. At crucial moments, the anti-nuclear groups always ranged ideological differences behind the common cause and did not let themselves divide into "left" and "right".

Up to the Chernobyl accident, the pro-nuclear circles in Austria made continuous attempts to topple the 1978 people decision. Since 1986, how-ever, there has been a constant 85%-90% percentage opposed to nuclear energy. And official Austrian policy, though by no means always consistent or courageous, has been antinuclear ever since.

Heinz Stockinger,
Independent Salzburg Platform Against Nuclear Dangers (PLAGE),
October 30, 1998*
Contact: Heinz Stockinger
PLAGE, A-5020 Salzburg, Arenbergstr.10
Tel. +43/662-643567, Fax -966437344
Heinz Hoegelsberger
AAI, A-1010 Vienna, Volksgartenstr.1
Tel. +43/1/5229-102 Fax: +43/1/5229-103

*In 1978 a member of the Coordinating Board of the Initiative =Oesterreichischer AKW-Gegner, one of the two nationwide umbrella organizations of Austrian opponents to nuclear power and the Zwentendorf NPP.


First Nuclear Free Future Award goes to long-standing activists from four continents.

On Nov.5, the 20th anniversary of the Austria "no" to nuclear power in a nationwide referendum, an international prize for antinuclear activists of great merit was awarded for the first time in Salzburg City, Austria, under the patronage of the Salzburg State Governor, Mr Franz Schausberger. According to its founder, Claus Biegert, the "Nuclear Free Future Award", endowed with at least DM 30.000 (approx. US$ 20.000) per year, is to honour persons that have persistently been dedicating their everyday existence to the struggle against the perils and the disastrous legacy of nuclear energy. In its first year ever, the award has gone to Yvonne Margarula (Australia, for "Resistance"), Raul Montenegro (Argentina, for "Education"), Hari Sharan (India, for "Solutions"), and Maisie Shiell (Canada, for "Lifetime Achievement").

Yvonne Margarula is a spokesperson for the Mirrara Gundjehmi aborigenes tribe whose land lies in Australia Kakadu National Park and is being threatened by the opening of the Jabiluka uranium mine. - Raul Montenegro, a professor of biology, has untiringly launched information campaigns which created enormous awareness of the dangers of nuclear technology among the Argentinian population as well as on government level. He thus played a central role in the cancellation of a uranium mine project and in twelve cities declaring themselves as nuclear-free zones. According to his slogan "Renewables for Peace", Hari Sharan, an Indian engineer, has conceived a biomass energy supply system that empowers small village communities to get independent from the grid. Maisie Shiell, now 83, has dedicated the past 20 years of her life to informing the people of Saskatchewan, Canada most "uranium-mined" province. People across Canada call her the "grandmother of antinuclear resistance".

Salzburg as the place of the first Nuclear-Free Future Award ceremony links back to the 1992 World Uranium Hearing (WUH) which was also officially hosted by Salzburg Province and organized mainly by Claus Biegert, who works as an author and journalist on nuclear and indigenous issues in Munich, Germany. The one-week World Uranium Hearing was the biggest meeting ever of representatives from antinuclear struggles across the world. It is in keeping with the WUH spirit that future laureates long-standing grassroots activists "to be lifted from the shadows into the public light" - will receive the Nuclear-Free Future Award in another significant place of the globe every year. Next year award ceremony will be held in Los Alamos, New Mexico, the birthplace of the Bomb.

Contact: Nuclear Free Future Award
Claus Biegert
Schellingstr. 24, Rgb.
D-80799 Munich, Germany
Tel. +49/89/286-59714, Fax -59715;