A 34-year-old man in southwest Sweden has been fined for possessing radioactive material. He had the radioactive elements americium, radium, and beryllium in his apartment in the Ängelholm municipality.
Richard Handl said he had attempted to create a nuclear reactor in his home, not in a threatening way, but simply as a hobby. He said he was not aware that any of the experiments he was conducting in his apartment were deemed illegal by Swedish law. Handl sent an inquiry to Sweden’s Radiation Safety Authority, who promptly called police when they found out what was going on in the man’s apartment.
The amateur nuclear physicist spent $40,000 constructing his nuclear fusion reactor. A 2011 report said that he had become the 38th person to achieve nuclear fusion from a self-made reactor.
A Swedish inspector told a local paper, “I’ve never experienced anything like it,” after seeing Handl’s apartment. The inspector, however, said Handl’s experiment did not pose much of a threat to society as a whole. “With the substances and amounts he experimented with, not much could have happened,” he said.
The court indicted the man for violating a radiation safety law and pursuing activities that were harmful to the environment. He was fined $2,033.
According to reports, Handl bought the rare elements online and successfully extracted them from electronic devices made for consumers.