Visitors to the Chernobyl exclusion zone normally come as part of a tour group. One-day packages which include transportation and food cost around $150-$200, or up to $300 if there’s only one of you.
Things to see:
Chernobyl reactor 4: You’ll not be able to get too close, but the nearest observation point is 200m from the reactor sarcophagus. The only way to get into the reactor is if you are a scientist or a film maker that has had months of preparation in advance. Although radiation levels here will be much higher than elsewhere in the region, you will not be able to pick up a significant dose during your stay. Typical dose at the site seems to be about 0.5 – 0.9 mR/h (milliroentgens per hour) (winter), slightly higher in the summer. However, measurements done from the observation point in October 2008 only showed a value of 14 microroentgens per hour (0.014 mR/h).
Your tour will probably include food, but you’re advised to bring your own snacks and drinks. However, some tours let you visit the only shop in Chernobyl where you can buy a beer for your meal. By the end of the tour, you just might need it. If you get access to the Chernobyl administration centre, you will be able to buy souvenirs, such as books detailing the disaster.
Pripyat, the town closest to the reactor (3 kilometers distance), was home to 49,000 residents before the disaster, mostly the families of the plant workers; now no one lives there. The city of Chernobyl is only 4 kilometers to the south of the reactor. High radiation levels forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people from the region surrounding Chernobyl, but today about 700 residents have returned to live in the region (although not the town itself).
Pripyat is a freeze-frame of 1980s Soviet life. Propaganda slogans still hang on walls, and children’s toys and other items remain as they were. But buildings are rotting, paint is peeling and looters have taken away anything that might have been of value. Trees and grass are eerily reclaiming the land. Today, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a tourist destination. In 2002, it opened for tourism, and in 2004 there were 870 visitors.
Before the official opening of tours of Chernobyl and the surroundings areas they were already welcome roughly 6,000 visitors a year, albeit illegally (by 2010).
Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Ministry announced December 2010 a plan to open the area around the defunct plant—where a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spreading radiation across the then-Soviet states of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia—to visitors starting January 2011.
Experts were developing tour routes that were medically safe and informative
Official guide tours announcement from February, 2011 Pregnant women are not allowed on the tours, nor is anyone under 18.
The effects of radiation are not as bad as critics contend, they cite how wildlife has staged a remarkable comeback in the area around Chernobyl. Audits in the past have shown that the 18-mile exclusion area or “dead zone” around the plant is now home to 66 different species of mammals, including wild boar, wolves, deer, beavers, foxes, lynx and thousands of elk.
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