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Chernobyl disaster site to become official tourist attraction

Ukrainian President signs decree for new plans

Helen Coffey
Friday 12 July 2019 11:36 BST

Chernobyl, the site of the worst ever nuclear accident, is to officially be turned into a tourist attraction.

The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, signed a decree to change the fortunes of the disaster area on Wednesday 10 July.

New plans will see walking trails and waterways added, mobile phone reception improved and filming restrictions lifted.

“Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” said President Zelensky at the inauguration ceremony for a new metal dome to encase the destroyed reactor, reports the BBC. “The time has come to change this.”

The area surrounding Chernobyl nuclear power station has grown in popularity as a “dark tourism” destination in recent years, with interest peaking after a 2019 HBO series about the tragedy.

In April 1986, a reactor at the station exploded, hospitalising 138 people, of whom 28 died in the immediate aftermath, and contaminating close to 50,000 acres of land after plumes of radioactive material shot 2km into the Earth’s atmosphere.

An 18-mile radius, known as the exclusion zone, was set up around the reactor and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the area.

Guides already offer tours of the town of Pripyat’s abandoned buildings and eerie, never-used ferris wheel, carrying Geiger counters to ensure radiation levels aren’t too high.

“We will create a green corridor for tourists,” said President Zelensky. “Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature was reborn after a huge man-made disaster.”

He added: ”We have to show this place to the world: to scientists, ecologists, historians and tourists.“

Last month, visitors to Pripyat came under fire for sharing “inappropriate” selfies at the site.

Under the #Chernobyl hashtag on Instagram, among the more haunting posts of derelict buildings are pictures of people posing or jumping and smiling in front of the ferris wheel and city name sign.

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Craig Mazin, who wrote the HBO Chernobyl mini-series, weighed in on the debate, tweeting: “It’s wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion.

“But yes, I’ve seen the photos going around.

“If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed.”

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