It’s a strange story to be sure, most famously told by journalist Ken Silverstein who would later turn the subject into a bestselling novel, “The Radioactive Boyscout.” But as the subject can so easily get lost to the sands of time, it may be important to reexamine this wildly and perhaps disturbingly successful attempt to build a nuclear breeder reactor.
The experiment, which ultimately was captured and stopped due to a chance encounter with police while the “Radioactive Boyscout” David Hahn was transporting goods in 1994 resulted in the FBI and the EPA being involved. The small suburban home was declared a superfund site, the almost finished reactor (which was emitting radiation levels 1,000 times higher than normal) was dismantled, and a reporter would later dedicate years to uncovering the tragic story that almost went untold in the west.
It’s hard to imagine anyone taking on the herculean task of actually constructing a nuclear reactor, let alone a 17 year old, but with the determination and rebellion of a 17 year old it’s slightly easier to see why someone would undertake a task the rest of us simply wouldn’t be able to undertake. After he started the profoundly intricate task of uncovering the materials alone (including radioactive material harvested from smoke detectors among things) he set about asking for the details of breeder reactors by looking into the subject posing as a professor at a university. As time went on, however, his tissue of aliases assisted him only in landing himself in trouble. His parents were not charged for the cost of cleanup, which ended up being somewhere around $60,000 in the end as their home was declared a superfund site and required the assistance of the EPA to clean up.
And so we’re left with the question, if a teenager can compile the materials and essentially make a breeder reactor with only his limited resources, are there people and groups around the world that have managed to make similar nuclear reactions after only a small investment and lies fabricated by a single teenager.
And then there’s the final caveat to this story. In the paranoia of today when the world is changing as vastly as it is, who else may have secretly been bitten by this radioactive spider? Under what future circumstance might we find ourselves looking at a news article where someone has built not only a partial nuclear reactor but a full one? The motivations are virtually as varied and serious as the individuals involved in the equation. Everyone wants free energy in this world. How long before someone with the technical ability and determination actually takes that next terrifying step and achieves what several nations have set about attempting to do with only their own resources?