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Glow-in-the-Dark Tourism December 17, 2010
Chermobyl tourist
Tourist standing in front of a cracked sarcophagus that contains the exploded Chernobyl nuclear reactor.
Ukraine has decided to open the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster to tourists starting next month, nearly 25 years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion showered a large area with radioactive fallout.

“Tours to Chernobyl are extreme tourism,” said Anatoliy Pakhlya, head of the Ukranian State Service for Tourism and Resorts.

While it is already possible to take unauthorized tours of the Chernobyl plant and surrounding areas, the government says they are illegal and the tourists’ safety cannot be guaranteed.

Pakhlya says that new authorized tours would steer visitors away from high levels of radioactivity, but allow them to visit abandoned communities and the crippled reactor building itself.

The agency points to studies that indicate a million visitors a year could safely visit inside the 20-mile exclusion zone set up following the disaster.

The area includes hundreds of small abandoned settlements, some of which were destroyed or buried.

Photo: Kate Ashby - Flickr