One of the Chornobyl tour operators announced a new service yesterday: a bus tour to the exclusion zone for children 12 plus, and we surely could not ignore this message.
Why did this initiative cause outrage?
The radiological situation in the exclusion zone has surely changed for better over more than 30 years but not so that we could take children there and deliberately expose them to hazard.
The current Procedure for Visiting the Exclusion Zone approved by Order of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine No. 1157 dated 2 November 2011 determines conditions of staying in the exclusion zone and, in particular, establishes age limits for citizens. In accordance with the Procedure, only individuals who have reached 18 can visit the exclusion zone. There is no legislative document that would allow children under 18 to visit the exclusion zone.
It is not clear how the tour operator is going to regulate this issue and comply with legislation. Anyway, it should be emphasized once again that the exclusion zone is not an entertainment territory that can be visited by children.
Without a doubt, children should know the history of their country, but we will never take them to a war place to show the consequences. Instead, we talk about heroes, show thematic films and visit museums.
The justification principle should be adhered to for visits to the exclusion zone. According to this principle, any activity accompanied by exposure of people to radiation should not be undertaken if it does not bring more benefit to exposed individuals or society as a whole than the harm it causes.
We believe that familiarization visits to the Chornobyl zone would be more advisable for students of dedicated universities so that young people who want to be involved into nuclear energy could see with their own eyes the destroying consequences of irresponsibility and negligent attitude to hazardous technology.
SSTC NRS Press Service