For those who don’t know, or haven’t yet seen HBO’s latest television show, the Chernobyl disaster was one of the largest nuclear tragedies the world has ever seen. In 1986 a massive explosion blew apart a nuclear reactor within Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries, and irreversible environmental damage across the Ukrainian city.
The town was evacuated and abandoned, and an 18-mile radius – known as the exclusion zone – was set up around the reactor. Local guides now offer tours through the eerie ghost town of Pripyat, Geiger counter in-hand to ensure unwary tourists don’t wander into dangerously radioactive zones.
However, this month Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Chernobyl is now officially a tourist attraction, and measures are being taken to ensure safe passage for those who are interested in seeing the disaster site, which already sees thousands of visitors per year.
The President revealed plans to build walking trails and waterways, improve mobile phone coverage at the site and lift the filming restrictions. The remaining radioactivity at the site is now being contained by a newly-installed metal dome that encases the destroyed reactor. However, low-levels of radioactivity still contaminate the area.
"We will create a green corridor for tourists," Mr Zelensky told BBC. "Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature [has been] reborn after a huge man-made disaster. We have to show this place to the world: to scientists, ecologists, historians [and] tourists.”
The Ukrainian government is taking full advantage of the Chernobyl effect – that is, the massive popularity of HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl – and is capitalising on the renewed interest in the site for tourists. But would you visit?
Interested in learning more about Chernobyl? Watch the trailer for HBO's miniseries below.