Scientists Grow Radioactive Vodka in Chernobyl

With the Emmys just around the corner, the HBO series Chernobyl is still on our minds. Chernobyl recounts the 1986 nuclear accident in Ukraine that leaked radioactive materials into the communities living around and in Pripyat. Today, researchers are still studying the surrounding area and the lingering effects of radiation from the accident. Specifically, some scientists are seeing if agriculture can be restored in the exclusion zone though the creation of….vodka.

Professors at the University of Portsmouth are making vodka by using crops grown in the exclusion zone and studying if radioactivity from the area is transferred into the crops as they grow. Currently, people living around the area are unable to grow and sustain agriculture because of the potential health risk. However, thanks to this alcoholic experiment, agriculture and economics might be able to come back to the affected area.

When scientists first harvested their crops, they did find radioactivity above the cautious limit. However, when the grain was distilled, these levels dropped. In fact, vodka created from this area is at a natural Carbon-14 level you’d find in any other spirit. This once-radioactive drink is now being sold by researchers through the “Chernobyl Spirit Company.” The name for this specific spirit? ATOMIK.

Thankfully, 75% of the profits made off this atomic vodka will go back to the affected community — mainly, people who live in the Zone of Obligatory Resettlement on the outskirts of the area. Scientists are hoping that the distillation of vodka will allow agriculture, and eventually economics, to thrive again in the area. Right now, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a wildlife reserve, filled with stray animals. However, areas like the Obligatory Resettlement zone could be used for agricultural means. People residing in these areas would benefit financially from this discovery by being able to grow crops again. 

In the hopeful future, crops won’t need to be distilled to remove radiation and can be simply harvested. Here’s to hoping some more veggies are grown so we can snack on them with our “atomik” vodka sodas. 

Featured Image: HBO

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