Scientists Make Vodka From Radioactive Chernobyl Grain
A team of researchers made the 'Atomik' vodka from grain and water from the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the first bottle has been tested.
The artisan vodka was made with water and grain from the Chernobyl exclusion zone and it's the first product to come out from the abandoned area. The researchers who worked on this project grew crops on a farm in the zone, planning to use the grain to make a spirit.
Prof. Smith is based at University of Portsmouth, UK, and has worked in the exclusion zone for many years, along with the others members of the team, studying how the land has recovered since the nuclear accident in 1986.
Is the vodka radioactive?
"This is no more radioactive than any other vodka," says Prof Smith. Any chemist will tell you, when you distill 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."
The scientists behind this project hope to sell the vodka and use the profits to help the communities in Ukraine that were affected by the economic impact of the disaster. Dr. Gennady Laptev, a scientist based at the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute, in Kiev, believed this project proves that some of the land could be used productively. "We don't have to just abandon the land," he says. "We can use it in diverse ways and we can produce something that will be totally clean from the radioactivity," he says.
They chose to make the vodka because even though the grain was slightly contaminated, they knew the distilled product was going to be clean. The team hopes this project will be able to provide support to communities around the exclusion zone. "after 30 years, I think the most important thing in the area is actually economic development, not the radioactivity.", Prof. Smith says.
The Atomik vodka was tasted at a cocktail bar in London. Sam Armeye, from Bar Swift, in Soho, tasted the vodka and said that "It's more of a grain spirit than a vodka, so it has much more fruity notes - you can still taste the rye."
Only one bottle was produced so far, but the researchers hope to produce 500 bottles by the end of the year and sell them to the tourists who visit the exclusion zone.