[ RadSafe ] nuke fun

Dale Boyce daleboyce at charter.net
Fri Jul 10 21:53:20 CDT 2009

Reminds me of an event quite a few years ago while I was still a university 
RSO. The university held a very elaborate annual scavenger hunt. Each item 
had a point value, and required a great deal of effort and a road trip of 
hundreds of miles. Each year there was a game winner item that carried so 
many points that pulling it off almost guaranteed a win.

One year one of the items (all items had to be physically brought to the 
judging location) was a breeder reactor. A group of students (team event) 
figured out that a jar of uranium salt is (very slowly) creating Pu-239 from 
neutron background. The physics professor judge confirmed that they were 
producing Pu-239, and they accrued a significant number of points in the 

It made the local newspapers, and as I remember it was a couple of weeks 
later, I received a call from our agreement state agency, that had received 
a call from the NRC, looking for an explanation of how a nuclear reactor 
came to have been built in a dorm room.

Now, given said university had a history of building a reactor in an unusual 
location, so I was happy to explain that the students had won on a 
technicality and not on actuality. The one conversation closed the issue, 
and no neighborhoods were evacuated.

TGIF see you in Minneapolis

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Richard D. Urban Jr." <radmax at earthlink.net>
To: <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 12:40 PM
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] nuke fun

> For those of you (like me) who can't remember much more than the curse 
> words from their High School French class... ;-)  though I like the 
> headline from The Cape Times better (Boys, 6, the nuke kids on the block) 
> follows is the original story...
> Kids' 'nuclear reactor' clears streets
> June 24, 2009  Article from:  Agence France-Presse
> TWO six-year-old boys pretending to have built a mini nuclear power plant 
> prompted German police and the fire brigade to clear their street, 
> authorities said today.
> The schoolchildren in the western town of Oelde had built the nuclear 
> reactor mock-up out of a computer casing and taped a "radioactivity 
> warning'' they had printed out from the Internet on its side.
> "When the boys returned to their 'nuclear power plant' from a brief stop 
> at home they were sent away again as the area and a wide radius around it 
> had been cleared and blocked off,'' police said in a statement.
> Residents were ordered not to leave their homes and firefighters tested 
> for a radioactive leak.
> The boys' parents thought the fire department was conducting a drill until 
> they read about the operation online and what led to it.
> They reported to the police station and explained their six-year-olds had 
> not managed to build an actual nuclear reactor.
> http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25682518-12377,00.html
> -----Original Message-----
>>From: Peter Bossew <Peter.Bossew at reflex.at>
>>Sent: Jul 10, 2009 6:59 AM
>>To: radsafe at radlab.nl
>>Subject: [ RadSafe ] nuke fun
>>source: Commission en direct (weekly internal newspaper of the European
>>relax !
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