Nuclear Energy: While all activities in the field of atomic energy were prohibited in Austria until the signing of the State Treaty in 1955, the federal government and 52 public and private enterprises founded the "Oesterreichische Studiengesellschaft fuer Atomenergie GmbH" (Austrian Atomic Energy Studies Company) in 1956 and commissioned it to build a "Power reactor as an educational model" Forschungszentrum Seibersdorf GmbH. With the support of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a nuclear reactor centre near Seibersdorf (southeast of Vienna) was completed in 1960. The centre originally comprised the nuclear reactor ASTRA, the Institutes of Electronic Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Biology and Agriculture, a Radiation Protection Institute and an IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency laboratory. In 1962 a pilot reactor of the Atomic Energy Institute of Austrian Higher Education Institutions (Atominstitute der oesterreichischen Hochschulen) near the Stadionbruecke bridge in the Vienna Prater recreation park and in 1963 another research reactor in Graz went into operation.
In 1972-1977 the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant (Lower Austria) was built with a planned output of 730 MW by the "Gemeinschaftskraftwerk Tullnerfeld GmbH" (established 1970). The energy plan of 1976 called for the construction of a total of 3 nuclear power plants in Austria. A plebiscite held on November 5, 1978 prevented the already finished power plant at Zwentendorf from going into operation, with 50.4 % of the votes cast. Since December 5, 1978, the "Atomsperrgesetz" (Anti-Nuclear Law) has prohibited the use of nuclear energy in Austria. Efforts to put the Zwentendorf power plant into operation were abandoned after the partial meltdown in Chernobyl (April 26, 1986).
Austria is a member of CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, founded 1958), which is headquartered in Vienna. Even before the practical application of atomic energy, Austrian researchers and engineers such as L. Boltzmann, W. Pauli, V. F. Hess, E. Schroedinger and L. Meitner played a decisive role in nuclear research.
Further reading#Oe. Dokumentationen. Kernenergie, 4 vols., 1977; E. Kitzmueller, Oesterreich - Verspaeteter Atomzwerg oder nicht-atomarer Anfaenger, in: L. Mez (ed.), Der Atomkonflikt, 1979.