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Ukraine to Officially Open Chernobyl Area

13. December 2010 by Christy 0 Comments

Next year, the Ukrainian government will officially open the sealed area around the Chernobyl power plant, allowing adventurous tourists to (legally) visit the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.


The government evacuated and sealed off the exclusion zone, a highly-contaminated area within a 30-mile radius of the destroyed nuclear reactor, after the catastrophic explosion on April 26, 1986. However, despite a government ban, hundreds of villagers eventually returned to their villages, and a few private firms started offering tours of the area. The government says these private tours are both illegal and unsafe and claim the official tours will be a better alternative.


Yulia Yershova, spokeswoman of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Ministry, said officials are developing official travel routes that are not only safe and legal, but also informative. 


 "There are things to see there if one follows the official route and doesn't stray away from the group," Yershova told The Associated Press. "Though it is a very sad story."


The Ukrainian government did not specify when tours will start.


Visitors may want to wait a few years to visit the site, however. The ministry also announced that it hopes to finish building a newer, safer shell, one that will replace the cracking, leaking shell currently covering the destroyed reactor, by 2015. Until then, residents and visitors to the region will simply have to hope the current shell continues to hold out.  


Here are a few pictures of Pripyat, an abandoned town near the Chernobyl power plant and a popular destination of the private companies currently offering tours.