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Originally published August 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 4, 2007 at 2:04 AM

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"Radioactive Boy Scout" worries neighbors

Could David Hahn, once dubbed the "Radioactive Boy Scout," have been trying to build a nuclear reactor again? Clinton Township police would...

Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Could David Hahn, once dubbed the "Radioactive Boy Scout," have been trying to build a nuclear reactor again?

Clinton Township police would only be speculating, but the 30-year-old — who as a teenager tried to earn a merit badge by building a nuclear reactor in his mother's potting shed — was arrested Thursday on charges of stealing a smoke detector from his suburban Detroit apartment complex.

Smoke detectors contain small amounts of radioactive americium, which was found in larger quantities in 1995 in the shed Hahn used. At that time, the federal Environmental Protection Agency became involved, the area became a Superfund site, Harper's magazine wrote an article and his story became a book.

Hahn received a Scouting merit badge for atomic energy in 1991, the magazine article said.

In the most recent incident, Hahn was charged with larceny from a building and was being held Friday in Macomb County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail after arraignment Thursday. During an interview with police, he denied taking the smoke detector, Capt. Richard Maierle said.

Maierle said a maintenance man at Green Valley Apartments saw Hahn on Wednesday taking the smoke detector off a wall.

Residents were evacuated Thursday for about five hours. The Michigan State Police bomb squad cleared the building and found nothing hazardous. Hahn was arrested inside his apartment, Maierle said.

He said police knew that Hahn had moved back to the area and that Hahn had been handing out leaflets to promote a book about his reactor, which drew concerns.

Police have been working with the FBI, monitoring the area for evidence of radioactivity. There was none, Maierle said.

He said eight smoke detectors from Hahn's building and eight from another building in the complex were missing. Police said they found other empty smoke detectors by Hahn's garbage.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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