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Mysterious box that prompted hazmat response contained harmless rocks

The mysterious box with radiation hazard labels on it that caused some alarm when it was found Wednesday in a Dorchester basement was opened this morning by a federal expert at a Boston Fire Department training facility.

It turned out to contain nothing but rocks.

“It was just someone’s collection that they left in the basement of this house,” said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.

He said a federal inspector with a nuclear incident response team opened the box. The rocks are “perfectly safe,” he said.

MacDonald said fire officials would see if a local college with a geography department might want the rocks.


The box was found shortly before 2 p.m. at 64 Julian St. A hazardous materials response was initiated, but tests soon found that the radiation emitted by the box was within acceptable limits.