Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"The Radioactive Boy Scout" is at it again

(AP news photo)

Back in 1995, David Hahn was trying to become an Eagle Scout. He also believed that the Earth was about to run out of energy. But he had an idea of how to kill two birds with one stone. He would get his Eagle Scout Rank, and save the world in one fell swoop. He decided that what the world needed were Thorium breeder reactors. So he set out to build one in his back yard. Yes you read that right, he decided to build a functioning nuclear reactor in his back yard. And he built it out of readily scrounged parts. He built a neturon gun out of a lead block with a hole in it filled with Americium-241 obtained from smoke detectors. He covered the hole, first with Aluminum, then later with Beryllium, then later replaced the Americium with Radium he obtained from a bottle of radium paint he found in the back of an antique clock. He then bought a large quantity of lantern mantles, burned them to ash, mixed in lithium from lithium batteries, wrapped it in Aluminum foil and heated it with a bunsen burner, thereby concentrating the Thorium in the ash. Thorium, when bombarded with neutrons, becomes Uranium 233 which is fissionable and gives off more neutrons, which converts more thorium to uranium, and also converts the uranium to plutonium. He then built himself a thorium breeder reactor with the parts.

He was caught with part of the now disassembled reactor core in the trunk of his car after being questioned by police about suspicious activity. The EPA discovered the materials and the shed he built it in and declared it a superfund site. tore it down, put it in barrels, and trucked it to a low level nuclear waste site in Utah and buried it. Hahn, went on to join the Navy as a Nuclear Machinist's Mate.

The story does not end there. He was arrested in Clinton Township Michigan last week. He was stealing smoke detectors for the Americium. He was busy building another breeder reactor in his apartment.


Blogger The Dude said...

I've got to admit, the guy's perseverence is pretty impressive. It's also pretty disturbing, but if it was applied in a more appropriate manner there's no telling what he could accomplish.

August 08, 2007 7:22 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Jeeze. I don't know what to think. It's kinda funny in a frightening sort of way. I'm inclined to agree with the dude.

August 09, 2007 10:10 AM  
Blogger El Capitan said...

Heh. All I did for my Eagle Scout service project was to strip paint off the walls of my church. We didn't even sniff the turpentine...

August 10, 2007 2:21 PM  

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