KIEV, Ukraine - The Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine which exploded in 1986 causing a disaster on a global scale is to become a tourist attraction.
The plan is the initiative of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky who has ordered the move in the form of a presidential decree.
"Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine's brand," he said while inaugurating a huge €1.7 billion dome, which encloses the destroyed nuclear reactor. "The time has come to change this."
The dome (pictured) has taken nine years to construct. The shelter is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built. It spans 257 metres and weighs more than 36,000 metric tons. Its purpose it to contain radioactive debris and protect the reactor from eroding further.
"Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet, where nature revives after a world-wide man-made disaster, where there is a real 'ghost town.' We should show Chernobyl to the world: scientists, environmental specialists, historians and tourists," the Ukrainian president said Saturday.
Zelensky said it was envisaged the area surrounding the Chernobyl site would become a growth precinct.
The president said the official certification of the site as a tourist destination would remove the corruption that had developed in relation to curiosity-seekers paying individuals to sneak them into the off-limits site.
"Unfortunately, the exclusion zone has so far remained a symbol of corruption," he said. "Security forces collect bribes from tourists, illegally ship metal and take advantage of natural resources. We will soon put an end to this."
(Photo credit: Pyotr Sivkov | Tass).