In 1995, then 17-year-old, “Eagle Scout”, David Hahn almost managed to build a nuclear reactor in the backyard shed of his mother’s Michigan home.
When local authorities found out what he was doing they contacted the EPA who then notified the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the NRC, and the FBI. His home was turned into a Superfund site, which took a year to clean up.
He accumulated the radioactive material from old smoke detectors, household clocks, and various other commercial products. The smoke detectors had a radioactive substance in them called americium. The clocks used paint with radium to create glow-in-the-dark highlights.
Hahn later served four years in the United States Navy, including service aboard the USS Enterprise, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. He also briefly served in the United States Marine Corps and then returned back to his home state.
Imagine what the current generation of teenagers can do with the knowledge and materials we have today.