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article imageDavid Hahn, 'Radioactive Boy Scout'

By Laura Trowbridge     Aug 6, 2007 in Crime
The man who was the subject of the book "The Radioactive Boy Scout" which told the tale of his attempt to build a nuclear reactor in the shed at the back of his mother's home in Commerce Twp.,MI when he was just a teenager, has been arrested again.
31-year-old David Hahn just may be up to his old tricks of experimenting with radioactive materials again. He was arrested on Wednesday when a maintenance worker let police know that he saw Hahn stealing a smoke detector in the apartment complex where he lives. Police found 16 smoke detectors in Hahn's apartment when they searched it.
Ken Silverstein wrote about Hahn in an article in Harper's Magazine in 1998, which later became a book, "The Radioactive Boy Scout." In the magazine article Silverstein explains the journey Hahn made from the early age of ten-years-old onward in his ever-increasing quest to irradiate everything he could. Hahn found out that radioactive isotope americium-241 could be found in smoke detectors when he was a teenager trying to make a neutron gun.
In 1994, 17-year-old Hahn had progressed to building a nuclear reactor in the shed at his mother's home in Commerce Twp., Michigan. He was hoping to earn his Eagle Scout badge by the energy experiment. He was stopped by police for routine questioning in an investigation into tire thefts in his father's Clinton Twp neighborhood. He had radioactive material in the trunk of his car from trying to get rid of some of the reactor's material he had been experimenting with in his mother's shed. This shed had to be dismantled and shipped to a radioactive waste site to be buried, and the EPA had to do a Superfund cleanup at the site.
Now years later, the man has grown up, but perhaps is still seeking to experiment with radioactive materials. He is denying stealing these smoke detectors, but is being held on a $5,000 bond in Macomb County jail, according to
Police evacuated the apartment complex and called out the bomb squad, but no hazardous materials were found in Hahn's apartment.
Police Capt. Richard Maierle said they found out Hahn was living in Clinton Twp. in January, after he served in the US Navy.
“Because of his past, we were a tad bit concerned,” he said, adding his department alerted the FBI when they found out he was back in Michigan. “We didn’t want any other radioactive sites to pop up.”
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