Perfectly Sane Scientist Apprehended


Victor Deeb, a retired chemist in Marlboro, Massachusetts, called the fire department because his second floor AC unit was on fire. The next thing you know, he's barred from the house he's lived in for 20 years for three days because of gear for his hobby found in the basement. And no, his hobby doesn't involve grow lamps. The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reports:

[Deeb], who stored hundreds of chemicals in his house, was allowed to return home yesterday after authorities spent three days dismantling his basement laboratory.

None of the materials found at 81 Fremont St. posed a radiological or biological risk, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. No mercury or poison was found. Some of the compounds are potentially explosive, but no more dangerous than typical household cleaning products.

 Deeb has several patents on file and more pending, including something involving "aromatic alcohols" that is "usable in numerous elastomeric applications including interior and exterior vehicle parts, roofing, asphalt, and any other applications," and something else that has to do with grinding things and "elastomer slurry," not to mention a "method and apparatus for introducing colorant to resinous materials."

In other words: This is a legit, productive guy who wanted to keep working after retirement. He had nothing in his basement that posed a risk to himself or his neighbors—just a lot of jars and boxes of chemicals. They don't really know if there's even a rule against this: "I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere," is the best that Pamela A. Wilderman, Marlboro's code enforcement officer, can come up with.

The most disheartening quote of all:

"He's been very cooperative," Ms. Wilderman said. "I won't be citing him for anything right at this moment."

Via Rimfax