Chernobyl becomes popular extreme resort

Chernobyl, the place of the tremendous man-caused catastrophe of the 20th century attracts more and more foreign tourists. About 7,500 tourists visited the place in 2009. The real number of visits to the nuclear-power plant is a lot larger.

British tourists are ready to pay 100 pounds a day to visit the place where the radiation level exceeds the norm several times, The Daily Mail wrote.

Even if the short stay in the radiation-polluted zone does not do any harm to one's health, each tourist signs a paper confirming their agreement to possible health issues that may or may not arise as a result of the trip.

Twenty-five years after the disaster, the zone became a shelter for rare animals such as otter, badger, bobcat, muskrat, Przhevalski's horse and others.

The world of Stalker, the computer game, is partially based on real objects and events connected with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Most of the visitors coming to Chernobyl prefer to visit extreme zones outside the limits of standard tours. Such stalkers prefer to explore the disaster-stricken territory privately.

A special memorial and tourist park in Chernobyl is to be opened by 26 April, 2011 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the catastrophe. The park will be a mini copy of the entire exclusion zone.

Long-overdue construction of the replacement for the confinement shelter over the ruins of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant's contaminated unit is being launched on Thursday in Ukraine.

The New Safe Confinement is a 108-meter tall sliding arch structure, which will cover the existing sarcophagus, which had been hastily built as a temporary measure after the nuclear disaster in 1986, Russia Today reports.

Unlike the old shelter, it will not be supported by the remaining beams of the reactor. It will also be fitted with modern instruments to control the environment in the damaged unit. It will also have necessary equipment to dismantle the old sarcophagus and safely store it, once the new one is in place. It is designed to hold radioactive debris in check for at least 100 years.

Replacement of the shelter is a necessary measure, because the current one is not completely safe. In case of emergency, like an earthquake or a particularly powerful storm, the old reactor may collapse along with the protective cover, releasing contaminated dust and ashes into the atmosphere.

Work on the new confinement started back in 1992, and the initial plan was to have it finished by 2005, but the date was postponed several times. The US$1.4 billion-valued project is expected to take five years of construction work.

President Yanukovych announced on Thursday that the year 2011 will be declared the Year of Solution of Chernobyl Problems in Ukraine.

Vitaly Salnik

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov