Abandoned plant marks Indiana's shot at nuclear power

Marble Hill nuclear power plant stands empty near Madison.
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Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News

New Washington - Indiana had a short-lived experiment in nuclear power, but after years of work, construction was stopped.

If you look closely at the Marble Hill nuclear power plant near New Washington, you can see what's left of the state's attempt at nuclear energy.

"You know, it's one of those kinds of things that, it's always just kind of been there. You get so used to seeing it," said Jessica Hartley.

The remnants of the plant are tucked away in a rural part of Jefferson County.

"Now that they're taking it down, it's just so different," Hartley said.

It's practically been in Hartley's backyard - just a half-mile from her home - her entire life.

"I'm just really glad that one wasn't up and running. Especially seeing everything going on in Japan, it's scary," she said.

Construction at Marble Hill began in 1977 and, at the height of building, there were about 8,000 people working at the plant. It all stopped in 1984, due to environmental concerns and cost overruns.

The plant had twin reactors and a turbine building. It was built near Madison, on the Ohio River, for an ample supply of water to cool the reactors. The facility was supposed to supply power to southern and eastern Indiana and possibly Kentucky.

But it was never completed.

Halting the project led to massive unemployment - nearly 25 percent - in Jefferson County. But it also created opportunity.

"I decided then, I thought, well, it's a very nice area and it's close to the river," said Eric Schnatter.

Schnatter bought a home on 82 acres, something he never would have done if nuclear energy was being produced at the plant.

"I wouldn't be here," he said. "I wouldn't feel safe."

The plant has slowly been disassembled over the past 25 years. Only one reactor still stands and demolition continues to this day.

"I'm glad that it didn't get up and running, but in the same, it just seems such a waste, because it at least could have been turned into something," Hartley said.

Indiana's $2.8 billion experiment in nuclear energy has now turned into scrap.