The first batch of 1,500 bottles of Atomik vodka, the only consumer good to come out of Chernobyl in 35 years, was seized by Ukrainian authorities on March 19 in Kyiv. Tax stamps — meaning money — appear to be the hold-up, and the incident appears to have nothing to do with safety concerns or radioactivity.
Ukrainian authorities ordered an investigation into what is being described as forged excise stamps. The company responded by saying the bottles were destined for the United Kingdom and all bore valid, genuine U.K. tax stamps.
Elena Smirnova, attorney for the Chernobyl Spirit Company, said in a press release that this is a “clear example of violation of Ukrainian law,” adding: “The actions of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are damaging the reputation of Ukraine as an open country for doing business.”
Following the nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986, the surrounding land was deemed unsuitable for agricultural purposes due to the heavy metals found in the soil. The Chernobyl Spirit Company was founded with the intention of supporting the rehabilitation of the Chernobyl landscape by distilling vodkas and donating profits to assist recovery efforts.
Professor Jeff Smith, scientist and co-founder of Chernobyl Spirit Company, told the BBC that the Atomik product is “no more radioactive than any other vodka.” The distillation process removes any trace of radioactivity from the crops grown in recovering areas, he explained.
Atomik vodka is distilled using apples grown in an area immediately bordering an exclusion zone in Narodichi. The company intends to donate up to 75 percent of profits to supporting communities and wildlife in affected areas.
As soon as the tax fiasco is settled, helping clean up the environment by drinking vodka Martinis sounds like a plan to us.