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Shock decision for Chernobyl disaster site

Ukraine’s President has made a surprise announcement that’s set to delight those eager to experience the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site.

The site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster is set to officially become a tourist attraction, Ukraine announced Wednesday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree to designate the area — the site of the 1986 disaster — a tourist site after the area saw an increase in visitors following the release of the popular HBO “Chernobyl” miniseries.

“Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” Zelensky said during the signing, according to the BBC.

“The time has come to change this.”

Shock decision for Chernobyl disaster site

Mr Zelensky made the announcement after boom in visitors following the release of the popular ‘Chernobyl’ miniseries. Picture: APSource:AP

The president described the area as “a unique place on the planet where nature is reviving after a major technological catastrophe,” and said walking trails, waterways and checkpoints will be implemented for visitors.

Zelensky unveiled the plans as he inaugurated a giant structure built to confine radioactive debris reactor No. 4 — a project that cost around $1.7 billion ($A2.44 billion) to build and took nine years to complete.

The New Safe Confinement (NSC) new metal dome encasing the destroyed reactor at Chernobyl plant. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The April 1986 disaster left at least 30 people dead in the immediate aftermath, from either the explosion at the reactor or from acute radiation sickness in the months after, and sparked a widespread environmental disaster.

Posters and portraits in a building in the abandoned city of Pripyat, inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The accident in what was then Soviet Ukraine exposed millions in the region to dangerous levels of radiation and forced a wide-scale, permanent evacuation of hundreds of towns and villages in Ukraine and Belarus as radioactive dust spewed across Europe.

HBO in May debuted a five-part miniseries about the explosion, which once again brought attention to the area. Tour operations near the plant credited an uptick in tourism to the show.

“Many people come here, they ask a lot of questions about the TV show, about all the events,” tour guide Viktoria Brozhko told Reuters last month. “People are getting more and more curious.”

The rusty ferris wheel, one of the most famous landmarks in the abandoned city of Pripyat, inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Itineraries offered by local tour companies include guided bus trips into the Exclusion Zone, stops in abandoned villages near Chernobyl, and then “sightseeing” in the town, which itself contains memorials and the robotics used to clear hazardous materials following the disaster. They can also stand outside the fourth reactor, now covered by a New Safe Confinement structure.

This story originally appeared on Fox News and is republished with permission.

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