Talk About Dangerous Travel: Ukraine to Open Chernobyl to Visitors
Can you believe it? There is talkno, more than just talkabout Ukraine opening up the Chernobyl nuclear power plant area to tourism as soon as January. Talk about dangerous tourism; the explosion that contributed to the deaths, deformities and radiation-related health problems of millions and millions of people may have occurred back in 1986, but that's still very recent in the memory of the people, not to mention that the site is still totally radioactive. (Here's a 1996 map showing levels ten years later).
When we were in school, we recall opening our textbook to a page on the Chernobyl explosion, and there was a haunting image of the plant. It piqued our curiosity greatly, and we'd be lying if we said we aren't at all intrigued at the possibility of visiting. On the other hand, it's pretty understood that Chernobyl is a no-go zone.
According to RIA-Novosti, the "[Emergencies] ministry was carrying out a large amount of work and planned to report on its results by the end of the year so that visits to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster site, so far referred to as extreme tourism, 'should become systematic in January.'"
We know there are travelers out there who seek out these experiences, and if you've visited all the concentration camps and the Soviet gulags, then perhaps this is the next stop. We sincerely hope that the Ukraine publishes some hard figures on the radiation levels in the area before bus tours offload their fanny pack-wearing hoards at the foot of the reactor's sarcophagus.