Big Mouth: True Nuke Puke


Since the topic is second hand nuke stories, here are mine. Told to me by an undergrad who worked in the British nuclear industry for a while.

Story 1

It seems the British cut more than a few corners in the early days of their nuclear program. This guy had an intern job at one of the sites that was being cleaned up. His job was to do work in one of the contaminated rooms. He loved the job because he only worked 2.5 minutes per day. That was the max time allowed in the room. Run in, do a bit of work, run out.

Story 2

Deep under the facility were huge sewer tunnels that lead to the ocean. He and another guy were exploring one for some reason I don’t recall. Walking along, the came upon a pile of debris. Their radiation counters went nuts. They swiftly turned around and left the tunnels. Seems someone found a convenient way to dispose of spent fuel rods: dump 'em down a shaft. 30 years later, this guy finds them.


The two nuclear stories I remember were of Louis Slotin dying after pushing two hemispheres of plutonium together on a desktop, & of SL-1 in Idaho, where three technicians were killed when one of them tried to unstick a control rod & ended up causing a steam explosion.

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How about 2.5 minutes of work, 7 hours, 57.5 minutes of paperwork?

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Ha! Ha! Harassment sure is hilarious.


The first story reminds me of the Chalk River incident, in which the clean-up crews–which included future U.S. president Jimmy Carter–could stay in the reactor area for only a few seconds at a time.

Oh, it’s all good yuks telling funny stories – until some politician gets ahold of them and enshrines them in the popular lore for all time and prevents anyone from doing anything nuclear-related ever again. Ha ha.


Thanks for the good words, Pat Pat!

20-some years later I’m working for the USPS as an Electronic Technician. I got a couple of my own creative projects in the works with Sci Fi Guy! and a revival of InterStellar OverDrive.

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The story that sticks in my head that is somewhat along the lines of the comic was told by a friend who did his thesis work at Oak Ridge National Lab… He was working in their radioassay laboratory which has several detectors that are housed in giant lead shields in order to keep the background as low as possible. There was a kid doing a summer internship (probably paper pushing) and somebody told him to be careful around the shields because that is where they store the Plutonium pits (aka bomb cores)… Everybody had a good laugh when got really nervous and left, but were not laughing a few days later when the (rather serious) gentlemen who are responsible for the security and management of stuff like Plutonium at the lab came around and started giving them the ‘third degree’ about the undocumented Plutonium in their lab.

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It’s really fun to see my old comics on BoingBoing. I certainly appreciate it, BoingBoingers!

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