The Unfinished Cuban Nuclear Power Plant Abandoned When the USSR Collapsed

Cuba's Unfinished Nuclear Plant

Cuba's Unfinished Nuclear Plant

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Sept. 11 2013 9:38 AM

Concrete Crypt for Communist Dreams: Cuba's Unfinished Nuclear Power Plant 

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a new travel blog. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

In 1976, Communist companions Cuba and the Soviet Union signed a deal to build a nuclear power plant in Juraqua. Construction on the first of two nuclear reactors began in 1983 with a target operational date of 1993. But a few years before the reactor's scheduled completion, the USSR collapsed. The flow of crucial Soviet funds ceased, 300 Russian technicians went home, and Cuba was forced to suspend construction on its badly needed power plant.

Lacking nuclear fuel and without the primary components installed, the plant sat in limbo until December 2000, when Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Cuba. Putin offered Fidel Castro a belated $800 million to finish the first reactor. Despite Cuba's reliance on imported oil for power, Castro declined. Project status: officially abandoned.


The unfinished plant, a huge, domed concrete structure, sits on the Caribbean coast, across the bay from the city of Cienfuegos.

Power places:

View Juragua Nuclear Power Plant in a larger map