The Netherlands closed one of its two atomic power plants Wednesday, ushering in the end of its nuclear era.
The senior operator on duty, Pierre Loman, simply pressed a button to disconnect the Dodewaard plant from the national power grid.Exactly 28 years ago, when a bright future was seen for nuclear power, the small, experimental plant was opened by the then Queen Juliana.
But the tide of Dutch public opinion turned against atomic energy after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, forcing the government to shelve plans to build five new plants.
Announcing the closure Wednesday, the association of electricity generation companies (SEP) said it was clear there was no political support for nuclear power in the Netherlands.
Instead the country plans to meet its electricity needs by making greater use of gas, the Netherlands' only abundant natural resource.
The Dodewaard plant, not far from the city of Nijmegen and some 20 miles from the German border, was built to gain experience with nuclear technology.
A larger, commercial plant was built at Borssele in the south in 1973 and like Dodewaard it became the scene of pitched battles between police and anti-nuclear protesters in the 1970s.
But the Borssele plant's days are also numbered. It is scheduled to close in 2004.