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Three cited for disposal of radioactive material

Three cited for disposal of radioactive material

Three people were arrested Tuesday and charged with illegally disposing low-level radioactive materi

Three people were arrested Tuesday and charged with illegally disposing low-level radioactive material in Halfmoon, the Department of Environmental Conservation said Wednesday.

On Feb. 15, DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch center received an anonymous tip that radioactive material was buried and cemented into the basement floor of 7F Tupelo Drive.

DEC environmental conservation officers responded to the location to investigate the allegation. Staff from DEC’s Radiation Program, the state Department of Health and Saratoga County Emergency Management also responded.

On March 8, investigators from the state Division of Law, with assistance from DOH and the Environmental Protection Agency, searched the residence of 76-year-old Edward Kenelly of 7F Tupelo Drive. The radioactive source was removed, examined and transported to a secure storage location, the DEC said.

A subsequent investigation by DEC revealed the source to be a low-level calibration element from Mary McClellan Hospital in Cambridge, Washington County, before the facility closed in 2003. Kenelly, a private contractor licensed to calibrate and test radiological equipment, offered to take the source from the hospital to expedite its closing, the DEC said. He kept it at his residence and in July 2011, he hired 32-year-old Arthur Martin, 32, of 257 Thimbleberry Road in Malta and Steven Pieniazek, 21, of 67 Jack Halloran Road in Stillwater to bury the source in the basement of his townhome.

DOH and DEC tested the residence and area for radiation levels and found no immediate health threats to the property owner or neighbors.

All three suspects were arraigned in Halfmoon Town Court on one count each of illegally disposing radioactive material and one each of operating a solid waste management facility without a permit. The charges are violations punishable by up to 15 days in jail and/or a minimum fine of $1,500 and a maximum fine of $15,000 per day of violation on each count. They pleaded not guilty and were released without bail. Their next court appearance is May 8 in Halfmoon Town Court.

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