Chernobyl Has Become a Tourist Attraction

Posted Sep 23rd 2010 05:01 PMUpdated Sep 23rd 2010 05:26 PM


Nearly 25 years after a Soviet-era nuclear reactor plant exploded in Chernobyl, in what was the worst nuclear disaster in history, tourists are flocking to the site.

Thousands of people come to follow guides with Geiger counters in hand through the irradiated zone around Chernobyl. And they pay about $160 for the experience, AFP reports.

The visitors range from nuclear specialists to ordinary tourists.

At the entrance to the zone, which is only open to those on tours or with special permission, visitors must sign a form saying they will respect rules for preventing contamination. There is no eating or smoking or touching anything.

One recent visitor, a young Belgian psychologist, Davinia Schoutteten, was "a little bit scared" of the radiation, and told AFP she planned to throw her shoes away after the tour.

Numbers on the Geiger counter rise as visitors head towards the reactor, which is now covered in a concrete shell, for a photo stop.

Then the tour visits the abandoned city of Pripyat, about two miles from the power plant, where about 50,000 residents were evacuated the day of the disaster. The city is a ghost town, unchanged since the Soviet-era.

Bobby Harrington, a young Australian tourist, viewing abandoned homes, said the experience made her sad. "It's the voyeuristic element that I feel uncomfortable with."

But other tourists said they see the site as an important reminder of a historical event.

"I always wanted to see this place, since it happened. It's a very important part of our recent history," said tourist Karl Backman, a Swedish musician.

The explosion contaminated the then-Soviet states of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and fallout also spread to other parts of Europe. In Ukraine alone, 2.3 million people are designated as officially having been impacted including from higher cancer rates.

The death toll from Chernobyl is subject to dispute, ranging from an estimated 4,000 to what may eventually be determined to be tens or even hundreds of thousands.

Photo, Carl Montgomery, flickr
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I seriously have no idea how any of you can make of fun of those kids, I'm 24, and did a report on this when I was 14, it was horrifying then, and still is now. Those poor poor people, google some pictures and then come back and joke about it, and if you can, you are a really sad soul less person, who needs intensive therapy, or we should just pack you off to prison now, because your obviously a sociopath. :)

September 24 2010 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what became of the president / vice pres / top ceo,s / supervisors / foremans and families respocible for this crime ? are they and their fams affected by this ? or did the fly the coup to safety ? there should be charges and convictions for high crimes like this . no matter how elite or powerful . just like all the big pharmas and fda foods { monsanto } with the things they have been putting in our foods / drugs / drinks . like sodium fuoride for one .and bpa . you all seen what china did to those responcible for melamine in the milk . they got death sentence . god speed to all

September 24 2010 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to joe's comment

You have to understand that a communist government, led by the corrupt Russians could care less about any rules, citizen rights, or anything but themselves. There is no FDA, consumer advocates, etc. The Soviet government said nothing to the world after hearing of this tragic disaster until the Nordics reported radioactivity in their own backyard. If they could the Soviet gov. would have kept it secret forever. Thank God that they are no longer around and that Ukraine is independent. Unfortunately the poor children, and others who were affected and died have to rely on the Chernobyl Fund, volunteer doctors from other countries, including the US who feel compassion and come to Ukraine to help these victims at no cost. Previous comments about Chicken Kiev and 3 eyed children are not very amusing - esp since here in the US the same disaster can potentially happen, and affect our own children. Wow that's really funny..

September 24 2010 at 4:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I visited the Ukraine a little over 7 years ago. Although I did not take this tour I was in the area. While there I went to several orphanges. It was very sad to see the children who are still seeing the effects of this. There were special rooms for these "unadoptable" children, some with their arms and legs backwards, oversized heads, babies with tumors and lots of other problems. I don't think you should take this accident lightly. Or make jokes about these precious children.

September 24 2010 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wish Belkin

Where else are you going to see three eyed Russian children?

September 24 2010 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

NYC isn't a healthy place to come to with all the air pollution

September 24 2010 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

no thanks, don't want to go there

September 24 2010 at 6:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Captain Greybeard

And Chicken Kiev on the dinner menu?

September 24 2010 at 5:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply