For a number of years, a kind of atypical tourism has been organized around the area where the Chernobyl power plant is located. As if that were not enough, the control room of the plant was recently opened to the public, despite ambient radioactivity.
A scientific and tourist curiosity
Let’s first remember that the “zone” – or Chernobyl exclusion zone – is a public no-go area within a radius of 30 kilometers around the plant. This – established after the terrible accident of April 26, 1986 – covers an area of 2,600 km², that is to say, as much as Luxembourg! This does not prevent some specialized tour operators from organizing expeditions of a few hours. It is indeed recommended not to stay very long in this perimeter because of radiation.
The area is a real curiosity, for both scientists and tourists, whose activity has been boosted by the series released this year by HBO. The city of Prypiat created in 1970 is today a dead city where Nature has regained its rights. In reality, this place has become a real nature reserve that has encouraged the return of large animals accompanying that of vegetation. For example, today there are seven times more wolves in the exclusion zone than outside. During the summer of 2018, one of them even ventured out of the area for the first time.
Tourists in the central!
Visiting the exclusion zone exposes individuals to particularly high radiation levels. However, the Ukrainian authorities have authorized travel agencies to go even further, according to a CNN article published on October 4, 2019. Indeed, it has been confirmed that the control room of reactor No. 4 of the plant was now open to the public! The argument to attract the tourist is already found: visit the place of origin of the worst nuclear disaster of all time.
CNN reports, however, that precautions will be taken regarding tourists. Indeed, it is the question of short visits and adapted equipment consisting of a suit, a helmet, and gloves. In addition, two radiological tests will be performed on these same visitors afterward, in order to measure their exposure to radioactivity.
It should be noted that this initiative is strongly supported by the President of Ukraine himself, Volodymyr Zelensky. He stated that Chernobyl has for many years been a negative aspect of his country. It is then a question of making sure to improve one’s image. In other words, the exclusion zone and more specifically the Chernobyl power station are officially considered tourist attractions!