Trip to Chernobyl: than the exclusion zone attracts thousands of foreign tourists. PHOTO
Chernobyl ... There was a tragedy, which has no analogues in the world. The tragedy that destroyed entire cities and changed millions of destinies. A tragedy that we did not know about.
After the success of the HBO series "Chernobyl", the whole world again started talking about the disaster 33 years later, and a record number of tourists were recorded in the exclusion zone, says Present Tense.
Against the backdrop of aroused interest, the newly elected president of Ukraine first of all also visited Chernobyl. Zelensky outlined incredible prospects for the exclusion zone.
“Let's finally turn the exclusion zone into a scientific and future tourist magnet,” the president suggested.
But where is the lie and where is the truth? And what actually happens in the exclusion zone? Dozens, maybe hundreds of films tell about the tragic past of Chernobyl. Let's talk about its present and try to find out what the future holds for the exclusion zone.
For millions of viewers, Chernobyl has become an exciting film, but for Ukrainians it was and remains a terrible reality. Although, apparently, the years and fear are doing their job: this dangerous and at the same time unique place in Ukraine is remembered, perhaps, once a year. And the rest of the time, Chernobyl is something that everyone wants to forget as a bad dream.
Of the 70 000 tourists who visited the area last year, 80% are foreigners. And today the exclusion zone is simply the realm of tourism.
Checkpoint "Dityatki" is the main gateway to the Chernobyl zone for a legal tourist. 1000 people come here on weekends, they are met and escorted by checks - mainly dosimetric.
The German Holberg was preparing for a trip to Chernobyl for several months. He travels alone. He says his friends wanted to go, but haven’t decided yet.
For those who were not afraid to come, they also distributed household dosimeters with instructions on the bus. Warned: starting from the 10-kilometer zone, the device will always show more than the norm. So it happened when the buses pulled up to the place where 33 years ago a tragedy occurred - the 4 reactor of the power unit exploded.
Now the service life of the first shelter has already been exhausted, so the 4th power unit was covered with a new protection called “Arka”. It should contain radiation for the next 100 years. But tourists can only watch from afar at the engineering miracle of technology that protects millions of lives.
"Arka" is the heaviest mobile structure not only in Ukraine, but also in the world. If a strong wind is approaching, for example, or a tornado, the employee presses a button on the remote control - and the systems automatically protect the "Arch". Protect at any cost: in addition to a tornado, it must withstand an earthquake, cope with possible fires and, most importantly, prevent a new release of radiation.
For this, hundreds of engineers have developed special robotic devices that will have to disassemble the destroyed reactor and extract tons of the remaining radioactive fuel.
Robots should start their rescue operation as early as next year. If you just imagined how a robot from a Hollywood blockbuster takes pieces of molten uranium from a fourth power unit, then this is not at all the case. Robotic equipment is a crane system (painted in yellow). The rest is located near the ill-fated reactor.
Despite the constant squeak of the dosimeter, being in a place from which millions have fled is incredible. And to understand that the mortal danger is still there, inside, trying to break through the dilapidated walls. It is not only the numbers on the meter that are scary, it is scary to realize that the fourth power unit is now in an emergency condition and may collapse at any moment. But engineers say the Arka has a double shell, and while a collapse is seen as a theoretical possibility, it's unlikely.
Holger from Germany arrived in Chernobyl prepared.
“The main thing is not to touch anything with your hands or stomp your feet,” he says.
In Chernobyl, radiation has become one of the thrill rides that foreign tourists follow. Tourists like such conditional games with danger. But nevertheless, they are more impressed by the era frozen in time.
Deciding on a tour is not easy, not only for security reasons, but also for financial reasons: tours for foreigners are not cheap. Economy option - about 100-120 dollars for one day with the group. Private excursions are several times more expensive. If you are willing to pay more, you will be shown not only the flavor of the dead Chernobyl villages, but also will be introduced to people who stayed here to live after the accident, or rather to survive.
Baba Ganya greets guests with a Chernobyl vodka and lard. For 33 years, she lives in an officially non-residential village. People like her were nicknamed homeowners - those who returned to live in the area after the accident. Although, by law, there should be neither theirs, nor their households, nor their crops.
“I have been eating this potato for 33 years and is healthier than you are in Kiev,” smiles Baba Ganya, pointing to a bag of red vegetables.
The youngest homeowners in the zone are already far beyond 70, Babe Ghana under 90. Yard and garden - that's her whole world. The store comes to them once every five weeks.
According to those accompanying, after the accident, about 2400 people returned to the closed zone. Now there are 115 left. They voluntarily live in isolation, although they are always happy with tourists and vegetables. But those who want to listen to the stories of women Ghani are becoming less and less - now not people, but objects of the Soviet era are more popular.
Pripyat, the most popular among tourists, is already in disrepair. Entering buildings is prohibited today. The state has no money to save the ghost town. The trouble is that many objects, if not to say the majority, have become potentially dangerous in the tourist area. The only hope, according to tour operators, is to achieve the inclusion of the Chernobyl zone in the UNESCO list.
But while the issue is being resolved, the destruction of Pripyat is regularly helped. For example, on a famous Ferris wheel, someone recently cut a brake system. Now it moves on its own.
“If a wheel falls, even HBO will not help,” says guide Anya.
It is not in vain that she recalls the series “Chernobyl” that has thundered all over the world - she believes that his fame will become a salvation for the zone and will bring even more guests here. But so far everything is not so fast and easy. According to Ani, people from the “couple of people” group raise their hands when they ask a question about the series - yes, they came because of HBO. Some are already planning ahead, but there is no big influx right now.
What awaits Pripyat - mass tourism or destruction? The head of the Ukrainian State Agency for the Management of the Exclusion Zone, Vitaliy Petruk, believes that it would be right to destroy it. But this requires funds. It is quite possible that Pripyat and other objects will be transferred to virtual reality technologies and will continue to receive tourists, leaving everything in the zone as it is. But the exclusion zone will remain a regime, because the main task for the future is to prevent the spread of radiation.
The only direction that can potentially give the removal of radionuclides from the exclusion zone is airborne fires. There are enough forests here, and for a long time there has not been a year for this forest not to burn. In Chernobyl, sanitary felling is constantly carried out precisely so that the forest remains a protection against radiation, because only living trees are able to absorb and retain radionuclides. Dry and dead trees are cut and checked for radionuclides. Such wood remains in Chernobyl, it is used, for example, for heating houses in the zone. And if the tree is not infected - it is taken out and sold for firewood.
In 2015, a forest fire destroyed about 5 thousand hectares of forest in a week. As a result, the concentration of radionuclides in the air then increased, but not critically. The consequences of that fire have not yet been removed: the new forest does not have time to grow, the old burns out, the protective barrier from radiation is becoming smaller.
For many years in Chernobyl, nature without man has taken its toll, and now this place is unique: a whole open-air laboratory. This is the largest reserve in Ukraine today, which could please a tourist, but guests between natural and industrial sites choose the latter.
On one-day excursions, the tourist manages to see, probably, less than half of all the interesting things. This is probably why another tourist movement was born - illegal. In tactical form, two groups of law enforcement officers go on a raid. Like real trackers, they are looking in the long deserted houses of the Pripyat forest overgrown with traces of the stay of a man - a stalker.
Having found stalker apartments, the patrol remains there and awaits the return of illegal tourists. They choose the most dangerous objects, because their main goal is adrenaline. Their personalities establish and write out a protocol for administrative violation. Then they are sent to Kiev. The amount of the fine is minimal, and the stalkers are not scared, so with a high probability they will soon come here again.
People disappointed with the Chernobyl zone cannot be met. Without exception, whether a tourist or a stalker, they leave here with their impressions.
“This is a memory. Many unique places take time, and you won't see them anymore, ”says a tourist from Australia.
Chernobyl is one of a kind on the whole planet. Someone will object - there is still Fukushima. But only during the Japanese accident, there were only two elements in the emissions: iodine and cesium isotopes, which would disappear in 30 years. But Chernobyl strontium and plutonium doomed this territory to 24 000 years of alienation. And this is an eternity. Therefore, no one will venture to say what Chernobyl will look like. But the flow of tourists here will never run dry.
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