If you like your alcohol with a nuclear kick to it, you’ll still have to wait after Ukrainian authorities seized over 1,500 bottles of Atomik, a vodka made from apples and grain grown near the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant, reports USA Today.
In 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history unfolded in what is now northern Ukraine as a reactor at Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and burned.
Still shrouded in secrecy, scientists estimate the zone around the former plant will not be habitable for up to 20,000 years.
Yet the vodka makers insist that research shows that some of the land can now be used to grow crops for human consumption.
The Chernobyl Spirit Company says Atomik is the first consumer product to come from the area since the nuclear disaster.
As scientists, they point out that distillation of fermented grain leaves many heavier elements in the waste product so the distillate alcohol is more radioactively “pure” than the original grain.
The experimental batch of their “moonshine” spirit Atomik was headed to the UK after leaving a distillery in Ukraine before it was intercepted by federal authorities.
Jim Smith, an environmental science professor at Portsmouth University and the company founder, said it was unclear why the booze was held.
“It seems that they are accusing us of using forged Ukrainian excise stamps, but this doesn’t make sense since the bottles are for the UK market and are clearly labelled with valid UK excise stamps,” Smith said in a press release.
Elina Smirnova, the lawyer representing The Chernobyl Spirit Company, said the seizure was in violation of Ukrainian laws.
“They have targeted a foreign company which has tried to establish a business to help Ukraine. The actions of law enforcement agencies are damaging the reputation of Ukraine as an open country for doing business. We still believe that the truth will win,” Smirnova said.
Moonshiner Smith has studied the nuclear accident for over 30 years, and his company claims they take every precaution to reduce radioactivity in the grain.
“Our research indicates much of the land in the nuclear exclusion zone can now be used to grow crops which are safe to eat,” he told the BBC in 2019 when studies showed that locally grown rye was below the limit of radioactive detection.
“We are working hard to set up a business to help bring jobs and investment to the Chernobyl affected areas of Ukraine and to further support the community by donating 75% of any profits we make,” Smith said.
A note on the Atomik vodka website says: “Our first production of Atomik Apple Spirit has been seized by Ukrainian security services for reasons unclear to us. We are working hard to get it released, but we can’t sell you anything yet.”