Radioactive material removed from Halfmoon house
Officials downplay risks from exposure
HALFMOON A small amount of radioactive material was removed Thursday from the basement of a townhouse, where it was buried in concrete.
Representatives of the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Health and the federal Environmental Protection Agency were involved in identifying and removing the item from 7F Tupelo Drive.
The amount of radiation being released was very low and not an immediate threat to the health of the homeowner or the general public, the state agencies said in a statement. The item may have been used to calibrate medical equipment, according to DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis.
“It is a Lucite tube, about 9 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, that contains a small cavity in the base of the tube that holds the radioactive material,” she said in an email. Lucite is a brand of thermoplastic sometimes called acrylic glass.
The agency is still investigating how the item got in the house.
Resident Edward Kennelly declined to comment on the incident. The phone book lists the address as the site of Kennelly Associates. A Facebook page, which includes the address and phone number for Kennelly Associates but little other information, describes it as a “health agency.”
DeSantis said the building is a residence, however, and not a business. It is in a quiet townhouse development off Grooms Road, just west of Route 9.
When asked whether the homeowner will have to pay a fine for the removal, she said the investigation is still ongoing.
The amount of radiation detected from the floor above the buried tube was a tiny fraction of what a person’s exposure during a chest X-ray would be, according to the state agencies. A chest X-ray is 10 millirems.
The tube registered at .02 millirems per hour, meaning a person would have to lie directly on the spot for about 21 days to get the exposure received during a chest X-ray.
DEC received an anonymous tip Feb. 15 about the radioactive item at its dispatch center in Ray Brook. DEC officers responded to investigate the claim, along with staff from DEC’s Radiation Program, the Health Department’s Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection and Saratoga Emergency Management.
The DEC also then called the EPA to remove the item and dispose of it.