Prolonged and unsupervised presence of tourists in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station may lead to significant radiation exposure, head of the Russian Scientific and Engineering Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety Alexander Khamaza told TASS on Thursday. The center is under supervision of the Russian Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree, which lifts the ban on visiting the exclusion zone, creating a "green corridor" for tourists.
"The decision of the Ukrainian leadership to open access to the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant is baffling. It is important to note that the contaminated territories had received the exclusion zone status out of concern for people’s safety.
It was a conscious decision. Prolonged, and, what is most important in the case of mass tourism, unsupervised presence of tourists in this zone may lead to radiation exposure at the level of several millisieverts (mSv) a year, which is several times higher than the allowed exposure of the population stipulated by international safety standards," Khamaza said.
According to the expert, "such an approach to visiting the contaminated zones may lead to the spread of radioactive contamination outside the zone."
"Personal use of nature’s gifts or their sale outside of the zone create additional health risks. This concerns not only the Ukrainian population," he added.
On July 10, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree lifting a number of previous bans on visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
"Unfortunately, the exclusion zone has so far remained a symbol of corruption: security forces collect bribes from tourists, illegally ship metal and take advantage of natural resources. We will soon put an end to this," the president stressed.
Zelensky vowed that Chernobyl would soon become a scientific and tourist site, which is poised to be "a symbol of new Ukraine’s freedom - without corruption and notorious bans, but with investments and the future.".