Radioactive Grain from Chernobyl Has Been Distilled into Vodka | 8/8/2019 | Brandon Specktor
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Thrill seekers visiting the ruins of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine may soon be able to take a piece of the site's radioactive history home with them — in their livers.

A team of scientists from the U.K. and Ukraine have just produced the first bottle of what they're calling Atomik vodka: artisanal spirits made from water and grain harvested in the reactor's once-forbidden exclusion zone.

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Though the 1,000-square-mile (2,600 square kilometers) zone surrounding the plant was initially declared uninhabitable by humans for 24,000 years following the 1986 meltdown, the makers of Atomik assured BBC News that their product is no more radioactive than any other liquor on the market.

Part of that is because much of the exclusion zone is not nearly as dangerous as it was feared to be 33 years ago. Some radiation hotspots — such as the Red Forest, where much of the radioactive material from the reactor spilled — remain off-limits to visitors. 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 nearly a decade ago.

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Today, Chernobyl is the No. 1 tourist destination in Ukraine, hosting more than 60,000 visitors in 2018, local tourism officials reported. Visits spiked by about 30% in May 2019, following the debut of HBO's "Chernobyl" miniseries.

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