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Tourists Prohibited from Visiting Chernobyl

29. September 2011 by Christy 0 Comments

Citing corruption concerns, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has suspended tour operations in Chernobyl’s dead zone, offering no guarantee that the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster will ever reopen to tourists. 

“Trips organized through tour operators to the exclusion zone have been stopped,” Ukraine's emergencies ministry, the organization responsible for overseeing the tour business, confirmed in a statement.

In February, the Ukrainian government officially opened the sealed area around the Chernobyl power plant, allowing adventurous tourists to (legally) visit the highly-contaminated area within a 30-mile radius of the destroyed nuclear reactor. Tourists paid approximately $100 to access the site, money which was supposed to help those affected by the disaster. However, according to officials at the Prosecutor General’s Office, the money is being funneled into the pockets of emergency ministry staff instead.

"We urge the ministry to inform the government of every dollar earned by these trips. We know that a lot of money has been made – but we have no idea in whose pockets it ended up," said Alexander Ampleev, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office. “Why not put the money into the budget and use it to solve the zone’s problems?”

For its part, the ministry insists it has done nothing wrong and has sued to resume tours. According to RT.com, the court is expected to start hearings this month.

Though the area is officially off limits, hundreds of villagers eventually returned to the area after the 1986 disaster, and a few private firms offer tours of the exclusion zone, government ban or not. 


Sources: RT, Wanderlust