updated 3/1/2007 10:31:43 AM ET 2007-03-01T15:31:43

A man who was caught on a subway surveillance video spilling mercury on a downtown station platform was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to stay away from the area’s mass transit facilities.

Armando Bustamante Miranda, 27, pleaded no contest Wednesday to releasing an offensive or harmful substance in a public area, said Patty Bilgin, supervisor of the City Attorney’s Environmental Justice and Protection Section.

In addition to the nearly three-month jail term, he was ordered to serve three years probation, she said.

Surveillance video on Dec. 22 showed Miranda crouching down and dropping something onto a subway platform. He appeared startled, then walked to a Metropolitan Transit Authority call box, reported the spill, and left.

No injuries were reported, and officials believe the small amount of mercury would have been harmful only if someone touched it.

Local and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, investigated the incident and the MTA’s sluggish response and concluded the spill was not a terrorist act.

MTA officials have acknowledged that their staff botched the response to the spill. It took more than 8 hours for authorities to respond, prompting calls for improvements to security at subway stations. Officials have discussed adding barriers and possibly more security officers at stations.

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