Anonymous tip leads authorities to a radioactive material

— Authorities removed a small amount of low-level radioactive material from a basement of a home in Saratoga County on Thursday, March 8, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and State Department of Health (DOH).

On Feb. 15, an anonymous tip was received at the DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch Center notifying officials that radioactive material was buried and cemented into the basement floor of 7F Tupelo Drive in the Town of Halfmoon. The address is in a suburban neighborhood and the material was of a low-level radioactive type that's used in a medical setting.

Specifically, according to Emily DeSantis, Director of Public Information with the DEC, the material 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. It is a device that could be used to calibrate medical equipment, she said.

DEC Environmental Conservation Officers initially responded to the location to investigate the claim. Staff from DEC's Radiation Program, DOH's Bureau of Environmental Radiation Protection and Saratoga County Emergency Management also responded. The removal was performed an EPA remedial contractor licensed to handle radioactive materials.

DOH and DEC tested the residence and area for radiation levels and found no immediate health threats to the property owner or neighbors. The initial radiation level taken on the floor above the source was approximately 20 microrems per hour. A microrem is 1/1000 of a millirem, a standard used to measure potential exposure levels. The source reading equates to .02 millirems. By comparison, a normal chest x-ray is 10 millirems. Using these measurements, a person would have to lay directly on the spot continuously for about 500 hours (21 days) to receive a dosage equivalent to a chest x-ray, according to the DEC.

DEC contacted the EPA to remove the radioactive materials so they can be properly disposed of. DEC's criminal investigation is ongoing.

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