Chernobyl Is Making Vodka From Contaminated Grain

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It has been just over 30 years since the world witnessed the worst nuclear disaster in the history of our planet – and people are now eagerly trying to create products from the radioactive wasteland known as The Chernobyl Exclusion Area.

On April 26, 1986, the #4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded and the nuclear reactor caught fire into the open air after the explosion blew the roof off. The wind and nuclear-fueled fire contaminated more than 30 square miles surrounding the reactor and had effects so severe on the planet – that some still are not fully known.

HBO recently released a mini-series detailing the entire disaster from start to finish, but in reality, the repair and decommissioning of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant – and specifically Reactor #4 – won’t be complete for another 40 years.

And now, a small experimental farm held within the radioactive exclusion area which has been growing crops for years, has released its very first product made from the contaminated grain made on the land.

Under a team of scientists, and led by University of Portsmouth professor Jim Smith, the operation is intending to prove that even though the ground is contaminated and the plants growing are radioactive – we can still make products and consumable goods from contaminated ingredients.

“Our idea… was [to use the grains] to make a spirit,” Prof. Smith said, in conversation with the BBC. “It’s the only bottle in existence—I tremble when I pick it up.”

The product they’ve come up with is none other than vodka – a staple of the region’s diet…and something that sounds like it’s straight out of a movie plot. Radioactive vodka? Check.

Currently, there’s only one bottle of “Atomik” vodka in existence…but they plan to produce as many as 500 just this year – and hope to sell them to the growing trend of tourists visiting Chernobyl and the exclusion zone.

The vodka, which sounds unsafe, is actually no more radioactive than any other vodka. This is because, while the grain is contaminated, and the water used comes from the Chernobyl aquifer when you distill something – the impurities and toxins remain with the waste product. So the vodka is free from any contamination at the end of the process.

“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.”