Remember To Pack A Radiation Counter ...
Do you have your 2011 vacation packing list ready? Read through it to make sure you're not missing anything vital: sunscreen ... swimming suit ... paperback for the beach ... radiation monitor ... sunglasses ...
Well, you'll only need one of those if you take up the hottest (in rads, at least) new official tourism destination next year, or possibly two, if it's a sunny day and you don't want the glare to spoil the experience.
For the first time since the devastating explosion and radiation leak in 1986, the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine will be open to government-run tours. There have been unofficial tours before now, but those tended to be for the foolhardy. The new tours, announced by the ex-Soviet state's emergency situations ministry, will allow trips inside the 30-mile exclusion zone around the remains of Reactor 4. All the main sights will be included, and dangerous radiation hotspots will be avoided, say officials.
Highlights of the trip – covered in The Guardian – will include the nuclear plant itself, passage through the Dytyatky control point and a radiation check. Lunch will also be provided: brought in from well outside the danger zone.
The nuclear plant, which kept generating power for another 14 years after Reactor 4's blast, has 2,500 staff working there to make the site safer. They still work in tightly timed shifts to minimise exposure to radiation. And the nearby city, Prypat, once home to 50,000 people, remains a ghost town.
If you're faint of heart, though, you still might want to delay your tour until 2015, when the Ukrainian government says it hopes to have replaced the crumbling, leaking concrete sarcophagus over the ruined reactor.