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Chernobyl's Cafe on - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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Thirty years after the famous nuclear reactor explosion, Chernobyl is once more showing signs of life. As the fears of older generations are replaced by the fascination of the new, Chernobyl is emerging as a popular tourist destination, and local industry is on the rise. But with radiation levels still dangerously high, questions remain over whether the region can ever truly recover.

"It's like any other cafe. We lead the life of ordinary Ukrainians, as if we were outside the exclusion zone", explains Sergei, the manager of Chernobyl's 'Cafe 10'. In the heart of the exclusion zone, the cafe serves up classical Ukrainian food to scores of clients every day: friendly and welcoming, it is very much a traditional cafe - the large Geiger counters on each table the only giveaway of its location in the most toxic region on earth.

Three decades on from the disaster, industry is beginning to restart in Chernobyl, and every day Cafe 10 is filled with tourists, come to see the famous reactor. Popularised in video games and horror movies, the site is now an attraction for travellers from all over the world, and tourism agencies are thriving. A younger generation of tourists, who do not remember the nuclear disaster, are behind this rise in "morbid tourism". "It's in the mind of elderly people, they lived through all this. They saw dead and sick people...but people my age think it's cool to come here", explains one local guide.

As well as a hike in tourism, the construction of a huge metal enclosure for the damaged plant has brought in hundreds of workers to the long-deserted area. The company in charge of its manufacture employs over 1000 workers on site every day, and around 600 of them live and sleep in Chernobyl. For many of these workers, the promise of regular work outweighs the threat of radiation: as one jokingly exclaims, "thankfully we have a job! And we're still alive...that's it!"


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