A quarter of a century after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the exclusion zone around the shattered Chernobyl atomic plant is not quite as empty as one might think.
Deserted towns and villages are remembered at the Chernobyl museum in Kiev – evacuated when reactor number four exploded just after midnight on April 26, 1986.
The museum’s scientific director Anna Korolevska told euronews: “There’s a new generation who were born in these territories, a generation who have received small doses of radiation over a long period: first of all in the mother’s womb and after their birth.
“That’s why we have to invest heavily, not only in the new sarcophagus to encase the plant but also to solve the problem of contaminated areas to help these people.”
And a new breed has established itself in the exclusion zone.
Thousands of tourists are taking what are known as Cherno-tours: 160 euros buys breakfast in the plant’s canteen and the chance to take photos outside the infamous reactor.
Tour operator Olga Filimonova said: “We call it extreme tourism, or the ecological tour. These areas are dead and I don’t think life is going to return. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to advertise this type of trip since at the moment the level of radiation there still isn’t known.”
Some 4,000 people still live in the exclusion zone to maintain safety at the plant.
Another thriving population consists of scientists, studying the effects of radiation on wildlife.