Scientists produce vodka from crops growing near Chernobyl nuclear disaster site

09 Août, 2019, 15:53 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Scientists produce vodka from crops growing near Chernobyl nuclear disaster site

Prof Jim Smith from the University of Portsmouth described the artisan vodka - branded Atomik - as "possibly the most important bottle of spirits in the world", as he believed it would help the region recover economically.

"Any chemist will tell you, when you distil something, impurities stay in the waste product". He said tests on the vodka showed that, following the distillation process, only "natural Carbon-14" radioactivity was found in line with any normal spirit drink.

To produce the vodka, Smith and his team diluted the distilled alcohol with mineral water from a deep aquifer in Chernobyl town, 10km south of the reactor, which is free from contamination and which he says has similar chemistry to groundwater in the Champagne region of France.

They even said they had a university lab double-check, and the spirit got the OK for being fallout-free.

Researchers have created a vodka out of the crops grown in the exclusion zone. It is the very first consumer product to come from the area since its (virtual) abandonment in 1986 when an uncontrolled explosion in a power plant resulted in one of the biggest nuclear accidents in history. "We've checked it. We've had two of the best laboratories in the world look at it and see if they can find any radioactivity from Chernobyl, and they haven't found it", he said.

The Ukrainian official also said he "likes it". "We can use this land in different and diverse ways and we can produce something which will be totally clean from the radioactivity".

Why did scientists specifically make a vodka?

. However, for the most part, the risk of radiation contamination throughout much of the exclusion zone is now considered "negligible" by the Ukrainian government, which reopened the zone to tourism almost a decade ago.

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In his work in Chernobyl since the 1990s, Prof Smith says he has been struck by how the economic conditions for people in Ukraine have remained stubbornly hard, while the landscape has slowly recovered.

75% of the profits created by the sales of the vodka will go directly to the Chernobyl population that was deeply affected by the disaster, Smith states.

"We don't think the main exclusion zone should be extensively used for agriculture as it is now a wildlife reserve, but there are other areas where people live but agriculture is still banned". First Deputy Head Oleg Nasvit calls it "a high-quality moonshine" - "it isn't typical of a more highly purified vodka, but has the flavor of the grain from our original Ukrainian distillation methods - I like it".

Wildlife - like this wild boar that provided the inspiration for the ATOMIK label - has flourished in the exclusion zone, largely thanks to the lack of people. Now, I know the internet will be clamoring for a taste, because humans have proven to be incredibly interested in seemingly forbidden liquids.

With the help of the expert team at a cocktail bar in London, I later compare Atomik with a house vodka.

The Unfortunately the vodka was probably more effective as a placebo.

The scientists said they were setting up a company called The Chernobyl Spirit Company to sell the vodka and hope to begin small-scale production later this year.



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