Get Your Geiger Counter Ready: Chernobyl Officially Opening to Tourism for 2011

Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on December 21, 2010 at 7:00 am

When I reported on tourists taking tours of Chernobyl a few months ago, I didn’t realize that most of the private tours are illegal. At least, that’s what the Russian government claims, according to this article at The Guardian. Not for long: starting next year, the site of the horrific nuclear disaster will be open to tourists.

Much of the area is still contaminated — some heavily — but organized tours will cover the main sites without taking anyone too close to dangerous areas. Ministry spokeswoman, Yulia Yershova said:

There are things to see there if one follows the official route and doesn’t stray away from the group.

Of the illegal private tours already in operation, the government says that tourists’ safety cannot be guaranteed. I would venture to say that by entering an area known to be contaminated with radiation, all bets are off – legal or illegal.

The plant generated power since its meltdown in 1986 all the way to 2000. And up to now, 2500 staff still work in strictly controlled shifts to help make the area safe. The new cover over the exploded reactor is set to be completed by 2015. The current one is cracked and leaks radiation.

[Image: gpjt / Flickr]

Tags: chernobyl, disaster, nuclear, russia, tourism

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