An artisan vodka has been produced with ingredients from the Chernobyl exclusion zone — and scientists insist it is safe to drink.
Scientists from the University of Portsmouth created “Atomik” vodka, a spirit made with exclusion zone grain and water, making it the first consumer product to come from the area around the abandoned nuclear power plant.
Chernobyl is the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, which resulted in thousands of deaths.
The 1986 reactor explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant forced a region-wide evacuation and sending radioactive fallout billowing across Europe. While the explosion itself killed around 31 people, millions were exposed to dangerous radiation levels, and estimates of the final death toll from long-term health problems range up to 200,000.
For more than two decades, authorities have maintained the 19-mile radius exclusion zone around the reactor, including the city of Pripyat, once home to 50,000 people.
A team of scientists from the University of Portsmouth and Ukraine brewed the vodka as part of a three-year research project into the transfer of radioactivity to crops grown in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Jim Smith, who led the project and who has conducted research on Chernobyl for decades, worked with a team to find out if it was safe to use some of the abandoned lands to grow crops.
Experts diluted the distilled alcohol with mineral water from an aquifer in Chernobyl town, which is 10km south of the reactor, and is free, they say, from contamination. The researchers insist the vodka is safe to drink. Although the team found some radioactivity in the grain used to make the drink, which is above the Ukrainian limit, they say that distilling reduced impurities to an undetectable level.