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Chongqing opens former Nuclear Plant as tourist attraction

Tourists visit part of the China 816 Nuclear
            Military Plant in Fuling District in southwest China's Chongqing
            municipality on Saturday, April 24, 2010. The abandoned nuclear plant
            known as the world's largest artificial cave has been opened to the
            public as a tourist attraction for the first time. [Photo: Xinhua]

Tourists visit part of the China 816 Nuclear Military Plant in Fuling District in southwest China's Chongqing municipality on Saturday, April 24, 2010. The abandoned nuclear plant known as the world's largest artificial cave has been opened to the public as a tourist attraction for the first time. [Photo: Xinhua] 

An abandoned nuclear plant in southwest China's Chongqing municipality known as the world's largest artificial cave has been opened to the public as a tourist attraction, Xinhua News Agency reports.

Construction of the China 816 Nuclear Military Plant, once a highly confidential military site in the mountainous town of Baitao in Fuling District, began in 1966, but the Central Military Commission called off the project in 1984 because the world situation was relatively peaceful at the time.

The cave was designed to withstand thousands of tons of explosives and 8-magnitude earthquakes. More than 60,000 soldiers participated in the construction of the plant.

In 2002, the then-Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense agreed to declassify the nuclear plant.

Early this month, Li Tingyong, Director of the Fuling Tourism Bureau, told "China Daily" that those who helped build the plant and some other guests would be invited to visit the site during a tourism trade fair held in Fuling on April 23-25.

"To build the nuclear plant into a tourist attraction featuring national defense education is significant." Li was quoted as saying. "During their visits there, tourists can learn about nuclear power."

Initially, the plant was to be opened only to domestic tour groups. But details about other visitor admissions would be determined later, Li said.