BELLEVIEW, Fla. – A Florida collectibles dealer and pawnshop owner last week stumbled upon a buried "gem" so alarming that he called firefighters.
"We were in the warehouse and we pulled out this box of rocks from an estate sale," Frank Cafaro told The Orlando Sentinel. "Everything was individually labeled. Amethyst. Topaz. Uranium. The guy I'm working with says, 'What's that last one? Uranium? I think that's illegal.'"
Emergency workers converged upon Gold Mine Pawn in Belleview, Fla., within an hour of the call last week. They brought with them Geiger-counter-waving members of a hazardous materials team and the Marion County Sheriff's Office domestic security task force.
They focused on a container the size of a soup can labeled with radioactive markings. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the container protected a vial that held about an ounce of yellowcake uranium. In large quantities, that material can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors or weapons.
The mineral was turned over to the Florida Department of Health for disposal.
Sharon Gogerty, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, told the Sentinel that small amounts of yellowcake were reported to the agency "on a regular basis" and were not considered especially dangerous.