There is important radioactive contamination at an elementary school in suburban St. Louis where nuclear weapons were produced during World War II, based on a latest report by environmental investigation consultants.

The report by Boston Chemical Data Corp. confirmed fears about contamination at Jana Elementary School within the Hazelwood School District in Florissant raised by a previous Army Corps of Engineers study.

The brand new report is predicated on samples taken in August from the college, based on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boston Chemical didn’t say who or what requested and funded the report.

“I used to be heartbroken,” said Ashley Bernaugh, president of the Jana parent-teacher association who has a son at the college. “It sounds so cliche, nevertheless it takes your breath from you.”

The college sits within the flood plain of Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated by nuclear waste from weapons production during World War II. The waste was dumped at sites near the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, next to the creek that flows to the Missouri River. The Corps has been cleansing up the creek for greater than 20 years.

The Corps’ report also found contamination in the realm but at much at lower levels, and it didn’t take any samples inside 300 feet of the college. Probably the most recent report included samples taken from Jana’s library, kitchen, classrooms, fields and playgrounds.

Levels of the radioactive isotope lead-210, polonium, radium and other toxins were “far in excess” of what Boston Chemical had expected. Dust samples taken inside the college were found to be contaminated.

Inhaling or ingesting these radioactive materials could cause significant injury, the report said.

“A big remedial program might be required to bring conditions at the college in step with expectations,” the report said.

The brand new report is predicted to be a serious topic at Tuesday’s Hazelwood school board meeting. The district said in a press release that it would seek the advice of with its attorneys and experts to find out the following steps.

“Safety is totally our top priority for our staff and students,” board president Betsy Rachel said Saturday.

Christen Commuso with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment presented the outcomes of the Corps’ study to the college board in June after obtaining a replica through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“I wouldn’t want my child on this school,” she said. “The effect of those toxins is cumulative.”


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