The writer of the acclaimed HBO drama series Chernobyl has spoken out about the proliferation of lewd and inappropriate selfies taken by tourists visiting the nuclear disaster site in Ukraine.
Since the five-part miniseries about the 1986 catastrophe at the former Soviet Union power plant began airing in May, tourism at the site has reportedly increased by 30–40%. Social media influencers visiting the site have been subject to criticism in recent days for using renewed interest in the disaster to stage glamour shots for their Instagram accounts.
Posts from the plant on social media include one showing a woman with a hazmat suit undone to reveal a G-string.
“It’s wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion,” screenwriter Craig Mazin tweeted on Wednesday morning. “But yes, I’ve seen the photos going around.
“If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed.”
The HBO series, starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson and directed by Johan Renck, follows the immediate aftermath of the nuclear reactor explosion at the power plant in the town of Pripyat, and the political repercussions of the disturbing and horrendous toll it took on the people, animals and environment in the region.
The series has been lauded as “masterful television” that avoids glamorising the disaster.
Two people died at the scene of the explosion and another 28 from acute radiation poisoning over the following weeks, while about 1,000 firefighters and emergency services workers experienced high radiation doses during that time, according to the World Health Organisation. The estimated 116,000 people who lived in the town of Pripyat and within a 30km radius of the site were evacuated in the weeks following, though the effects of radiation exposure for the broader population of Ukraine and Europe is still an ongoing concern.
The disaster site has been open to tourists since the late 1990s, but has increased in popularity over the last five to 10 years, particularly the ghost town of Pripyat and the surrounding woods. Visitors are screened for radiation levels on entry and exit, and sometimes wear hazmat suits and carry devices to measure radiation levels.
The exclusion zone has also become an important refuge for wildlife.