Newest Tourist Attraction: Chernobyl to Open to Visitors in 2011

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A shelter over the fourth power bloc of the Chernobyl nuclear power station keeps harmful radiation from spreading.

Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Though we’d use the term “attraction” lightly.

For you adventurous types, put this in your planner next time you’re passing through Ukraine. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been long open to tourists, but the “Exclusion Zone,” a 19-mile circle around Reactor No. 4 has been sealed off since the disaster – for obvious health reasons. Following the 1986 catastrophe, only Chernobyl employees and scientists were permitted to get anywhere near the burned-out core. But starting next year, the shroud will be lifted for visitors looking to get a closer look at the disaster.

(See a video of TIME’s visit to Chernobyl.)

Ukrainian government official Yulia Yershova said “experts are developing travel routes that will be both medically safe and informative.” Guides will lead tourists around the condemned area, staying away from the most radioactive areas. CNN reports that while radiation in the area is still high, trees and other wildlife have begun growing again, so much of the Exclusion Zone should be safe for humans, too.

But a word of caution: while touring Chernobyl may no longer be harmful to your health, it could certainly be hazardous to your emotions. (via AP)