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A Haunting Drone's Eye View of an Abandoned Nuclear Plant

This video is one of the more dystopian things I’ve seen filmed with a drone.

Jason Koebler

Jason Koebler

Screengrab: YouTube

Perhaps it's the ominous music, perhaps it's the freaky cloud cover, or perhaps it's the abandoned freakin' reactor itself, but this video is one of the more dystopian things I've seen filmed with a drone.

Normally, I'd say that anyone who takes a drone and flies over a nuclear reactor is probably not going to be looked upon very kindly by local authorities. But, in this case, pilot Braden Roseborough may have picked one of the only nuclear reactors where it's probably cool to do this. (Also, yes, this is technically the cooling tower, but the reactor is there too, somewhere down there. And what else do you think of when you think "nuclear reactor" besides the giant tower?)

Construction on Satsop, Washington's nuclear power plant began in 1977 and stopped in 1983 after the project ran out of money. The reactor was never brought online, and the shell of it has been sitting there ever since. It has been set to be demolished since 1995, but as you can see, that never happened. 

In fact, lots of people have actually climbed the cooling tower (and toured inside of it) over the last few decades. The only sign the plant has any power at all comes from the blinking lights on top of the tower, which stand as a warning to passing planes.

"The cooling towers were some of the most intimidating structures I've ever seen," Roseborough said. I'll go ahead and agree with him.

The video hits all the right notes, what with the slow ascent up the cooling tower that goes far above the tree line and the pervasive clouds, the long hover just outside the tower's opening, and the pull-away to show just how massive the thing is. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to seeinside the thing, but this will do for now.

Roseborough described on Reddit how he got the shot:

"It was planned. I talked a buddy of mine into getting out there at 5 AM for the sunrise and to avoid bothering any business that happens in the area. We drive down to skydive frequently and know there's typically some kind of fog or cloud cover but didn't know how perfect the conditions would be. We got really lucky with the location of the fog. I had clear visibility directly over the site with no wind," he said. "We chatted with some of the business owners who have businesses in the park there and a security guard, all of whom were very friendly and had no issues with us being there."

Sounds like he went about it the right way, and he was rewarded with perfect conditions for the shoot.