FLORISSANT, Mo. (HPD) — Radioactive waste in a creek that runs through suburban St. Louis, Missouri, has long been considered a possible cause of cancers and other health problems for residents. Now, new studies indicate that Coldwater Creek has also caused contamination around — and perhaps inside — an elementary school.
Students at Jana Elementary School in Florissant are still coming to class, despite a new report from a company that found radioactive material at levels much higher than expected for the school, which is in the Coldwater floodplain.
Contamination was found in classrooms and the library, in the ventilation system, and in the outdoor playground and adjoining fields, according to a report by the Boston-based Chemical Data Corp. The study completed this month was commissioned by law firms involved in a class action civil lawsuit, one of several seeking compensation for those who attribute illnesses or deaths to living near the creek.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that high levels of radiation can increase the risk of cancer, while high levels of lead can impact a child’s development and attention span.
“Remedial measures are appropriate to reduce exposures to radioactive materials for those using the school building and grounds, but are complicated by the potential for recontamination due to flooding from contaminated Coldwater Creek,” the report said.
The study follows a survey by the Army Corps of Engineers that found radioactive contamination in a field near the school. The study did not examine the playground or the interior of the school.
The Hazelwood School Board was to meet behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss its options.
“Safety is always our highest priority and we are actively discussing the implications of the findings,” the school district said in a statement. “The Board of Education will consult with attorneys and experts in that area of evidence to determine next steps.”