Fernald would gain notoriety by 1984 when it was learned that the plant was releasing millions of pounds of uranium dust into the atmosphere, causing major radioactive contamination of the surrounding areas. That same year, employee Dave Bocks, a 39 year old pipefitter, disappeared during the facility’s graveyard shift and was later reported missing. Eventually, his remains were discovered inside a uranium processing furnace located in Plant 6; a sudden 28-degree drop in furnace temperature (which was kept at a constant 1300 degrees F) had been recorded at 5:15 AM during the night of Bocks’ disappearance. After the investigations, insufficient evidence was found relating to the death and the official ruling was that no foul play was involved. Some, however, including Bocks’ family, have believed that he was murdered by one or more coworkers who suspected him of being a whistleblower in the 1984 nuclear emissions scandal. Other theories included an industrial accident and suicide. It is believed that Dave Bocks was alive when he entered the furnace.
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