Radioactive waste found at Missouri school

FLORISSANT, Mo. (HPD) — There is a significant level of radioactive contamination at an elementary school in a St. Louis suburb where nuclear weapons were built during World War II, according to a new report released by consultants in environmental research.

The Boston Chemical Data Corp. report confirmed fears about contamination levels at Jana Elementary School in Florissant’s Hazelwood school district that had been raised in a previous Army Corps of Engineers study.

The new report is based on samples collected from the school in August, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boston Chemical did not say who or what institution requested and funded the study.

“My heart broke,” said Ashley Bernaugh, president of the Jana Parent-Teacher Association and mother of one of the students. “It sounds cliché, but she blows your mind.”

The school is located in the floodplain of Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated with nuclear waste from weapons production during World War II. The waste was stored at sites located near the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, in the vicinity of the creek that flows into the Missouri River. The Army Corps of Engineers has spent more than 20 years cleaning up the site.

In its report, the Corps of Engineers also said it had found contamination at the site, but at much lower levels, and did not take samples within 300 feet of the school. The most recent study included samples taken from the library, kitchen, classrooms, sports fields and playgrounds.

Levels of the radioactive isotope lead-210, polonium, radium and other toxins “far exceeded” Boston Chemical’s expectations. Contamination was found in dust samples collected within the school.

Inhaling or ingesting these radioactive materials can cause significant damage, the study warned.

“A significant program of correction will be required to bring conditions in the school up to expectations,” the text states.

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