"Chernobyl" Writer Asks Instagram Influencers to Cool It with the Exclusion Zone Selfies

"If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there."
June 12, 2019, 12:55pm
Chernobyl selfies HBO Instagram

If you must visit the site of a nuclear disaster, the writer of HBO’s “Chernobyl” is asking you to at least be respectful of the people who suffered and died there.

In other words, maybe don’t spend the entire time at the site — which is, again, a place where people died — taking selfies to boost your likes and followers.

It’s a reminder that Craig Mazin, the writer of the powerful HBO miniseries, felt compelled to issue on Tuesday, because tourism at the Ukraine site has ramped up since the show began airing. And now, pictures of Instagram influencers posing at the site of the 1986 disaster have gone viral.


“It's wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion,” Mazin posted on Twitter. “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.”

Two people died when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in 1986, and more than two dozen more died from acute radiation poisoning in the weeks that followed. Thousands of people were exposed to high levels of radiation — the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2005 that the disaster could eventually cause some 4,000 deaths from radiation exposure. There were some 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer alone — mostly in children at the time of the accident — and at least nine deaths from the cancer, according to the WHO.

While tourists have visited Chernobyl since the late ‘90s, the recent flock of Instagram influencers has drawn extra attention by posting glamor shots, including one viral photo in which a woman wears a hazmat suit pulled down to reveal her underwear. Since the show began airing, tour companies that shuttle people in and out of the "exclusion zone” surrounding the plant have seen a sharp uptick in business.

"We have seen a 35 percent rise in bookings," Victor Korol, director of the tour company SoloEast, told CNN. "Most of the people say they decided to book after seeing this show. It's almost as though they watch it and then jump on a plane over."

Cover: A researcher holds up a geiger counter outside the destroyed block no. 4 Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine Friday April 12, 1996. Leaders of 8 countries have gathered in Moscow for a nuclear safety summit to seek a solution for the threat posed by outdated nuclear reactors, particularly the the Soviet-designed RBMK's of the type that exploded in Chernobyl 10 years ago. (AP Photo/Oleg Nikishin)