The first bottles of a so-called “artisanal spirit” made out of apples grown near to Chernobyl have been seized by Ukrainian authorities.
According to the Chernobyl Spirit Company, 1,500 bottles of their Atomik spirit were confiscated on 19 March.
These bottles were then taken to the Kyiv Prosecutor’s office where they are now undergoing investigation.
The spirit is apparently the first consumer product to have been made in Chernobyl since the nuclear disaster struck there in 1986.
The company that makes the spirit is run by scientists who work and carry out studies in the 4,000 square kilometre Chernobyl exclusion zone. These studies have included growing crops there to see whether or not food grown there could be safe for consumption.
In producing the spirit, researchers hoped to show how land could be put back to productive use, with the idea that eventually communities there could grow and sell produce. This is something which is currently illegal on the “officially contaminated land.”
The shipment was apparently taken from a truck at a distillery in the Carpathians and it is thought that Ukrainian authorities seized the batch over some confusion around excise stamps.
Prof Jim Smith, a scientist who has studied the exclusion zone for many years and set up the Chernobyl Spirit Company with Ukrainian colleagues explained how this would not “make sense” especially “since the bottles are for the UK market and are clearly labelled with valid UK excise stamps,” reported the BBC.
Prof Smith explained that the spirit was “no more radioactive than any other vodka.” Since it was first produced in 2019, the professor and his colleagues have adjusted their recipe to make an apple-based spirit with fruit grown in the Narodichi district, an area just beyond the exclusion zone where agriculture and development is currently still very restricted.
The company says they intend to use some of the profits made from sale of the spirit to help communities in Ukraine - including in Narodichi - that continue to be affected by the economic impact of the nuclear explosion.
The news comes as scientists monitoring Chernobyl have discovered fission reactions erupting within an inaccessible chamber in the ruins of the power plant. This has raised concerns a further explosion at the site could possibly occur.
Prior to the 1986 disaster, nearby Pripyat was a thriving city and home to nearly 50,000 people. It was quickly evacuated following the explosion and has transformed into a ghost town, completely reclaimed by nature.