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Arrests made in radioactive material case

Police have arrested three Saratoga County residents allegedly responsible for the presence of a low-level radioactive substance found in a Halfmoon home in March.

A Department of Environmental Conservation investigation led to the arrest of Edward Kenelly, 76, of 7F Tupelo Drive, Clifton Park; Arthur Martin, 32, of 257 Thimbleberry Road, Malta; and Steven Pieniazek, 21, of 67 Jack Halloran Road, Stillwater. All were charged with illegally disposing radioactive material and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit, both 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.

"The improper disposal of radioactive material is unacceptable, poses unnecessary risks to human health and the environment, and will not be tolerated," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a statement. "Fortunately, in this case, a successful and collaborative effort between state, local and federal agencies ensured the material was properly removed and never posed a threat to the public."

Police, the DEC and the Department of Health removed a small amount of radioactive material from the basement of 7F Tupelo Drive on March 8 after executing a search warrant. At the time, officials described the material as a device that could be used to calibrate medical equipment.

Today, the DEC announced radiation was coming from a low-level calibration source from Mary McClellan Hospital in Cambridge, Washington County, before the facility closed in 2003. Kenelly was a private contractor working at the hospital to calibrate and test radiological equipment and offered to take the item from the hospital to expedite its closing, authorities said.

He allegedly in July of 2011 hired Martin and Pieniazek to bury the material in the basement of his townhome.

Authoriteis said the amount of radiation given off by the material was about 20 microrems per hour, and said a person would have to lay continuously next to it for 21 days to receive the same dose of radiation as received in a chest X-Ray.

All three subjects were arraigned in Halfmoon Town Court, pled not guilty and were released without bail. Their next court appearance is May 8 in Halfmoon Town Court.

Read The Spotlight's previous report here.

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