I spent several days trying to verify this. Harper's did reluctantly
admit to having published it. However a search of government records,
newspaper accounts, etc did not corroborate the story. There were
roughly similar incidences that were some proximate in time and
geography. From my research it appears something did happen but it was
not nearly as good a story as the version presented above.
Well, rather extensive articles have been printed about the story in the last
decade. One in particular was in Reader's Digest within the past few years. It
did have photos of newspaper articles about the lad as I recall. If you are
really interested in checking further, perhaps the Digest would be a place to
I really like the story. It is a great story. I just tried to follow
it up with EPA records, Atomic Energy records, Detroit Free Press,
etc. I didn't have much luck. I couldn't find the town. I did
find one incident that was somewhat similar. It may have been a boy
scout running the business painting radium dials.
Neither the state or the federal EPA have any record that matches his
very well. Some stories say that the names and site were changed to
protect the people involved but that is illegal.
Bear Lake Radiation Site, Michigan
In 1994 EPA Region 5 and the Michigan Department of Public Health
discovered a home in Bear Lake, Michigan, that was heavily contaminated
with radium as the result of a home business that repaired and
repainted radium aircraft dials.
In 1995, under an emergency, time-critical removal action, EPA
relocated the family an attempted to decontaminate their possessions,
home , and land. The possessions could not be decontaminated and were
disposed of as radioactive waste. The home was demolished and the
debris and large volumes of soil from the property were also disposed
of as radioactive waste.
Commerce Township, MI is 228 miles away.
I can't find any "golf manor" in Michigan.
I found it on the Detroit Free Press site with no trouble. Click on
Archives, then select 1995 for the year and type in David Hahn. You get:
EPA CLEANS OUT TEEN'S RADIOACTIVE LAB
July 1, 1995 424 words ID: 9501240819
A Clinton Township teenager had been experimenting in his garden-shed
laboratory for four years before the Environmental Protection Agency hauled
away 39 barrels of low-level radioactive material this week.. It took three
days and $50,000 for EPA workers in protective suits to empty the shed, in
his mother's Pinto Drive backyard in Commerce Township, of the containers.
. David Hahn, 18, who lives on Cooper Drive in Clinton Township, has not
been charged with any wrongdoing.
If you want to read more you have to buy it.
I found the town on Microsoft Streets and Trips with no trouble. I even
found the street.
Twenty Years After Chernobyl
Thursday, April 13, 2006
By Steven Milloy
April 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl
nuclear power plant. Anti-nuclear activists are still trying to turn
Chernobyl into a bigger disaster than it really was.
Although the Number Four nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded just
before dawn on April 26, 1986, Soviet secrecy prevented the world from
learning about the accident for days. Once details began to emerge,
however, the anti-nuclear scare machine swung into action.
Three days after the accident Greenpeace "scientists" predicted the
accident would cause 10,000 people to get
cancer over a 20-year period within a 625-mile radius of the plant.
Greenpeace also estimated that 2,000 to 4,000 people in Sweden would
develop cancer over a 30-year period from the radioactive fallout.
At the same time, Helen Caldicott, president emeritus of the
anti-nuclear Physicians for Social Responsibility, predicted the
accident would cause almost 300,000 cancers in 5 to 50 years and cause
almost 1 million people either to be rendered sterile or mentally
retarded, or to develop radiation sickness, menstrual problems and other
University of California-Berkeley medical physicist and nuclear power
critic Dr. John Gofman made the most dire forecast. He predicted at an
American Chemical Society meeting that the Chernobyl accident would
cause 1 million cancers worldwide, half of them fatal.
But the reality of the health consequences of the Chernobyl accident
seems to be quite different than predicted by the anti-nuke crowd.
As of mid-2005, fewer than 50 deaths were attributed to radiation from
the accident - that's according to a report, entitled "Chernobyl's
Legacy: Health Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts," produced by an
international team of 100 scientists working under the auspices of the
United Nations. Almost all of those 50 deaths were rescue workers who
were highly exposed to radiation and died within months of the accident.
So far, there have been about 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in
children. But except for nine deaths, all of those with thyroid cancer
have recovered, according to the report.
Despite the UN report, the anti-nuclear mob hasn't given up on Chernobyl
According to a March 25 report in The Guardian (UK), Greenpeace and
others are set to issue a report around the 20th anniversary of the
accident claiming that at least 500,000 people may have already died as
a result of the accident.
Ukraine's government appears to be on board with the casualty inflation
game, perhaps looking for more
international aid for the economically-struggling former Soviet
The Guardian article quoted the deputy head of the Ukraine National
Commission for Radiation Protection as touting the 500,000-deaths
figure. A spokesman for the Ukraine government's Scientific Center for
Radiation Medicine told The Guardian, "We're overwhelmed by thyroid
cancers, leukemias and genetic mutations that are not recorded in the
[UN] data and which were practically unknown 20 years ago."
Putting aside the anti-nuclear movement's track record of making wild
claims and predictions in order advance its political agenda, I put more
credence in the UN's estimates because it squares with what we know
about real-life exposures to high levels of radiation.
Among the more than 86,000 survivors of the atomic bomb blasts that
ended World War II, for example, "only" about 500 or so "extra" cancers
have occurred since 1950. Exposure to high-levels of radiation does
increase cancer risk, but only slightly.
There is no doubt that Chernobyl was a disaster, but it was not one of
Chernobyl and Three Mile Island - the U.S. nuclear plant that
accidentally released a small amount radiation in 1979 - are examples of
how the anti-nuclear lobby takes every available opportunity to scare
the public about nuclear power.
But no one was harmed by the incident at Three Mile Island. The
Chernobyl accident can be chalked up to deficiencies in its Soviet-era
design and operation. Neither reflect poorly on the track record of
safety demonstrated by nuclear power plants designed, built and operated
in countries like the U.S., U.K., France and Japan.
It's quite ironic that while Greenpeace squawks about the need to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases in order to avert the much-dreaded global
warming, the group continues spreading fear about greenhouse gas-free
nuclear power plants - the only practical alternative to burning fossil
fuels for producing electricity.
Apparently, Greenpeace's solution to our energy problems is simply to
turn the lights off - for good.
Steve's pasted article states (in part):
But no one was harmed by the incident at Three Mile Island.
This article states (in part):
Pennsylvania Health Commissioner Gordon MacLeod publicly stated that
downwind from the plant the number of babies born with hypothyroidism jumped
from nine in the nine months before the accident to 20 in the nine months
after. MacLeod reasoned that the thyroid gland was affected by the large
amount of thyroid-seeking iodine 131 released from the plant. He also
emphasized the increase in deaths of infants within a 10-mile radius, as did
Ernest Sternglass, a University of Pittsburgh physicist. In the six months
after the accident, 31 infants living within 10 miles of the plant died,
more than double the 14 deaths during the same six-month period the previous
Volunteer your idle computer time for cancer research
On Sun, 16 Apr 2006 18:10:57 -0700, with neither quill nor qualm, "Ken
What are the long-term stats? Were those two years' stats within the
range of say, 10 or 20 year statistics? Or was the year after an
anomaly which would truly point the finger at TMI rads?
Don't take life so seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.
It also states
"A settlement of a lawsuit over economic losses from the accident
created the Three Mile Island Public Health Fund to commission and
underwrite research exploring radiation-cancer links near the plant. In
1990-1991, a team of researchers from Columbia University, supported by
the fund, published two articles on cancer rates before and after the
accident in the population living within 10 miles of the plant. Using
hospital records, the group found that newly diagnosed cancer cases rose
64 percent, from 1,722 in the period 1975-1979, to 2,831 in 1981-1985.
Substantial increases occurred in the number of cases of leukemia, lung
cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and in all cancers in persons under age
radiation dose levels and cancer risk. <<
The researchers, led by epidemiologist Maureen Hatch, assigned an
estimated dose to each of 69 portions of the 10-mile radius around the
plant. The highest assigned levels were north/northwest of the plant,
where the plume initially drifted on the morning of March 28, 1979. No
consideration was given to wind direction thereafter. The north/
northeast areas were generally assigned the lowest dose. The articles
declared that increases in local cancer rates were unlikely to be
explained by radiation, and that "such a pattern might reflect the
impact of accident stress on cancer progression," although no reliable
measure of stress was included in the article."
"The only other reports offering new data on disease rates near Three
Mile Island were the work of a team from the University of Pittsburgh,
published in 2000 and 2003.  This group, also aided by the Three
Mile Island Public Health Fund, looked at death rates after the
accident, abandoning the "before v. after" approach used by Hatch and
Wing. The researchers found no link between radiation and death rates
(all causes, heart disease, and various cancers) among 32,000 persons
living within five miles of the plant in 1979. As Hatch had done, they
assigned the area north/northeast of the plant as the lowest dose area,
but for most disease categories, this area had the highest mortality
So this says that the area that received the LOWEST dose has the highest
"No identifiable injuries due to radiation occurred (a government report
concluded that "the projected number of excess fatal cancers due to the
accident ... is approximately one."), "
"There were no injuries or adverse health effects from the accident. "
"No one died as a result of the TMI-2 accident. The accident caused
concerns about the possibility of radiation-induced health effects,
principally cancer, in the area surrounding the plant. Because of those
concerns, the Pennsylvania Department of Health maintained for 18 years
a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within five miles of
Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state's registry was
discontinued in June 1997 without any evidence of unusual health
"The average radiation dose to people living within 10 miles of the
plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single
individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100
millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation
received by U.S. residents in a year."
So I would MUCH rather have a nuke plant next door than a Coal plant.
"Ken Davey" < email@example.com> wrote in message
On Wed, 12 Apr 2006 08:19:05 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
It must be true - the CSM freaked:
And, for those who eschew googlegroups, here's the original link:
Also, to "president": Do not click the broken reply link at the bottom of
the post - click the show options link at the top, then click _that_
reply link - that way, it quotes context. Then, trim as needed and
lol! that was a good one chris, ignoramus' recent "electric or science toy
kits that are decent" post. lol. ignormaus... "hey guys, i gathered up a
bunch or really cool stuff and made a nuclear reactor kit for my son."
Exactly. The article says: "Ignoring safety, David mixed his radium and
americium with beryllium and aluminum, all of which he wrapped in aluminum foil,
forming a makeshift reactor core. He surrounded this radioactive ball with a
blanket of small foil-wrapped cubes of thorium ash and uranium powder, tenuously
held together with duct tape."
A container of random radioactive stuff (while possibly dangerous) is no more a
"nuclear reactor" than a cardboard box filled with random mechanical and
electrical parts is a CNC machine. To produce a nuclear chain reaction, you
need to have a critical mass of some pretty specific stuff, coupled with a
proper design. Anything less, and all you have is a pile of (possibly)
Granted, calling the mess a "reactor core" is loverly for inciting "OH
MY GOD!" reactions, since it isnt' even close - but John Q. Public isn't
likely to make it past "nuclear" without starting to cringe and whine
about there needing to be a law. The Detroit Free Press/Detroit News has
*LONG* been known by those familiar with them for trying to get
*EXACTLY* that sort of reaction. (no pun intended)
His goal with this "core" wasn't either a chain reaction *OR* fission -
He was attempting (in a rather clever fashion, no less) to use the thing
to irradiate, and thereby "hop up", his thorium and low-grade uranium
for later use as a fissionable when he actually started on the "let's
see if we can make a scale model nuclear reactor" part of his project.
If you take the time to read through the article completely, you'll find
that David was never successful in constructing a working reactor with
functional nuclear fuel. He was "busted" before he even made an attempt
in that direction. However, he was *EXTREMELY* successful at putting
together most of what he would have needed had he been able to continue
his experiments. Even money says that if he'd been left alone, he would
have succeeded quite well, earning that merit badge (and then some) and
possibly even making a breakthrough such as will never be made in
today's "Oh no! It's nuclear/radioactive! Shut it down, lock it up, bury
it deep, and shoot the guy that put it together" environment.
I give the kid LOTS of credit - He set out to achieve a goal, and was
doing a damn fine job of making it happen using easily available
materials and technology.
Don Bruder - email@example.com - If your "From:" address isn't on my whitelist,
or the subject of the message doesn't contain the exact text "PopperAndShadow"
From my reading of the incident, he was not interested in producing a hot
chain reaction and knew he did not have a critical mass. He was interested
in irradiating some of the material in the reactor to produce U-233 from the
thorium and Pu-239 from the U-238, which are themselves radioactive and
easier to fission. Hence the "breeder" designation.
That's right Don. He was not putting together a nuclear chain reactor,
he was putting together a breeder and he succeeded. He was able to
change the materials in desired direction, as evidenced by dramatic
rise in radiation level as his breeding process went on.
While I applaud his achievement and "social engineering" skills, he
made some unforgivable mistakes in containing radiation.
Not my cup of tea, but very admirable.
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