I guess we should be happy that they didn’t come after the guy with torches and pitchforks:
In fairness. though. the post on Slashdot is a little sensationalistic (yeah, big surprise). According to the original article firefighters were called to this guy’s home for an unrelated fire. They saw a bunch of chemicals, some of which may not have been stored properly, and were understandably concerned that there might be something bad going on.
That said, his chemicals should be returned. And they shouldn’t be allowed to invoke vague zoning requirements to shut the guy down, either. That would make sense for an industrial operation, but I think it’s an abuse of power to use them to shut down home labs. There’s no zoning requirement for intellectual curiosity.
As a film photographer this sort of precident worries me. There’s nothing particularly dangerous in the darkroom chemicals used for photography, and the quantities are tiny. They’re no more dangerous than bug spray or household cleansers, and if you don’t drink them they’re perfectly safe. But photographers who do their own wet printing, alternative processes, or who mix their own developers from scratch (not too difficult, there are only a few basic ingredients) might have enough bottles and vials around to scare the Chemicals Are Evil brigade. We don’t want to see harmless home darkrooms busted up like illegal moonshine stills.