Make it Raluminium
Aluminium is surprisingly feisty for something you can find in your kitchen. You can turn it into foil, or airplanes, or thermite. It's been investigated as a laboratory reducing agent, and it'll make iodides, hydrides, and plenty in between, while alloying well with other metals -- and it'll dissolve in both acids and bases!
What's its secret? Aluminium is so reactive that it readily forms an oxide layer, which turns out to passivate it really well and preserve the pure metal underneath. It's like a wonderful chemical banana that automatically rewraps itself after every bite!
The catch is, Earth's geological history has been long enough to oxidize practically all of it into (relatively) chemically inert ore, which is why when aluminium was first discovered it was pricier than gold. It wanted its oxygens so bad, you could only get them off by whacking alumina with elemental sodium or potassium! People tried electrolysing salt solutions, but the aluminium produced that way would throw its electrons right back into the water and cook off hydrogen gas.
If you could melt aluminium oxide and electrolyse that you'd be home free -- but the thing melts at 2072 °C. But, it turns out, if you mix it with another aluminium compound (cryolite), that turns its melting point down a thousand degrees or so (just like how mixing salt with water lowers its melting point). That enabled the Hall-Heroult process to finally produce industrial quantities of aluminium metal, albeit at tremendous costs of energy and pollution.
(Recycle your aluminium cans, folks! They're still full of hard-won pure metal goodness under that oxide skin!)
I think what you're looking for is a setting shortly after the discovery of something like the Hall-Heroult process. With enough alternate-historying you could cook up an "aluminium rush" with all the juicy minerals vs ethics you can imagine (and still see today, for rare earth minerals, another possible reference to consider), with newfound smelting technology turning aluminium from a rare wonder into a pioneer's dream.
And guess what! It has a radioactive isotope! Of course actual aluminium-26's half-life is far too short for you to make dangerous radioactive alumina piles, but you can always handwavium it up into the billions of years and still have realistic chemistry. It makes sense that people would only discover its radioactivity once they were motivated enough to mine and refine it industrially (uranium oxides were used peripherally for two thousand years before people discovered radioactivity).
So there you go. Make it radioactive aluminium, or Raluminium. Have fun!