Scientists have produced a vodka named Atomik from crops which have been grown in the exclusion zone of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster.
The “artisan vodka” was created from grains and water which are found within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, making it the first consumer product to be produced from the abandoned zone of the nuclear power plant.
The research team behind the product include Professor Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth, UK, who stated: “Any chemist will tell you, when you distil something, impurities stay in the waste product.
“So we took rye that was slightly contaminated and water from the Chernobyl aquifer and we distilled it.
“We asked our friends at Southampton University, who have an amazing radio-analytical laboratory, to see if they could find any radioactivity.
“They couldn’t find anything – everything was below their limit of detection.”
According to Prof Smith, the project is to go further than just having a unique selling point, he hopes to fund money to support communities that are still affected by the disaster which happened many years ago, with the rest being reinvested back into the business.
“There are radiation hotspots [in the exclusion zone] but for the most part contamination is lower than you’d find in other parts of the world with relatively high natural background radiation,” he said.
“The problem for most people who live there is they don’t have the proper diet, good health services, jobs or investment.”
He noted the economic structure for people of the Ukraine has remained incredibly difficult whilst the landscape has slowly recovered.
One of the founding members of the new Chernobyl Spirit Company, Dr Gennady Laptev, a scientist who is based at Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute in Kiev spoke to the BBC: “We don’t have to just abandon the land,” he said. “We can use it in diverse ways and we can produce something that will be totally clean from the radioactivity.”
As only one bottle has been produced it may be a while before you’ll get to try it for yourself, however, Atomik has been described as “more of a grain spirit than a vodka” with “fruity notes.”
Prof Smith and the team are hoping to launch 500 more bottles this year, targeting the wave of tourists that have now began to visit the exclusion zone.