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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chernobyl Tourism: Not for the Faint of Heart

Thrill seekers have tried some wacked-out stunts to get a glimpse of roads less traveled — many of them involving climbing steep things or jumping from great heights. But soon, a unique tourist opportunity in the Ukraine will offer up a new, perhaps scarier, type of risk.Radiation.

Yes, the Ukrainian government announced this week that they’ll open none other than Chernobyl — the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster — to tourists next year. Just in case your memory needs refreshing here, this is the former nuclear power plant where a reactor blew up in 1986. The explosion blew the lid off the reactor, releasing 400 times more radiation than the Hiroshima bomb and contaminating a huge area all around it.

In a statement that’s the opposite of confidence-inspiring, officials have said the radiation risks associated with visiting Chernobyl are “minimal.” Whether you buy that or not (the Christian Science Monitor reports that there’s still some hazardous radioactive material in the area), this experience could definitely be cool from a historical standpoint: Travelers could explore Chernobyl town and surrounding villages, which — since they were evacuated after the accident — supposedly now have a kind of spooky quality to them. They’ll also be able to visit a viewing terrace to see the sarcophagus, a concrete structure that was built to seal off the reactor and its reactive contents — a singular experience, indeed, if you’re willing to take your chances.


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