The last of the five episodes of the series Chernobyl was aired on June 7th on HBO Brasil. The original production is a partnership between the network and Sky Atlantic that portrays the unfolding of the worst nuclear disaster in history, and has been widely praised by the public and critics.

With chillingly realistic special effects, photography, sets, and characterization, the plot of the series takes us to the early morning of April 25, 1986, in Pripyat, then part of the Soviet Union. On that day, reactor 4 at the Chernobyl power plant explodes during safety tests. What follows is a fateful sequence of human error, omission of information, and political maneuvering that results in the profound human drama of the tragedy.

The highlight of the series is in the stories of some of the victims of the catastrophe, such as employees of the plant and the firefighting team, the first to arrive at the site to contain the fire, unaware of the gravity of the accident or even of the danger contained in the nuclear radiation that killed them in a few days. There is also mention of the hundreds of miners and workers baptized as liquidators who, even knowing the great risks, submitted themselves to work in the highly contaminated perimeter to execute containment works and the cleaning up of the radioactive debris.

Ghost town celebrates tourism boom

More than 30 years after the disaster, the Exclusion Zone of about 2,600 km² around Chernobyl has become a tourist attraction.

The ghost town of Pripyat, located where Ukraine is today, was originally a model city built to house the nuclear power plant workers, and after the accident it was evacuated. The site is still radioactive, but regularly hosts guided tours for tourists interested in learning about the remains of the tragedy.

According to Yaroslav Yemelianenko, director of the Chernobyl tour, in a recent interview with Reuters, the 40% increase in site visits was attributed to the resounding success of the series. "Package bookings for June, July and August are growing as never before," he said.

The guided tour costs around US$100.00, including specialized guides and safety and behavioral manuals to avoid contamination risks. My agency has been very successful, as it includes visits to some of the places depicted in the series, such as the military bunker," says Ymelianenko.

Among the sites most visited by tourists are the amusement park and its emblematic abandoned Ferris wheel, and the beautiful monument to the firemen, constantly covered with flower crowns to honor the heroes and victims of the accident.

Even located near the remains of the reactor, still highly radioactive, experts guarantee that, if all safety regulations and exposure periods are obeyed, the visit is safe.  

One of the measures to contain the deadly radiation still emanating from the destroyed reactor core was the construction of a giant sarcophagus of more than 200 tons of metal, concrete, and other radiation-inhibiting materials, which is constantly being monitored and maintained.

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