Missouri school’s worst fears come true as reports confirm radioactive contamination from WWII nukes

Missouri school’s worst fears come true as reports confirm radioactive contamination from WWII nukes
Radioactive waste up to 22 times the expected level was found in a kindergarten play area at Jana Elementary School (Twitter/@ElementaryJana)

FLORISSANT, MISSOURI: According to a new report by environmental investigation consultants, there is considerable radioactive contamination in a St Louis suburban elementary school where nuclear weapons were made during the second world war. The report about contamination was confirmed by Boston Chemical Data Corp which took place at Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District in Florissant. It was previously raised by Army Corps of Engineers study.

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As per the reports of St Louis Post-Dispatch, the new report is based on samples taken in August from the school. “I was heartbroken,” said Ashley Bernaugh, president of the Jana parent-teacher association who has a son at the school. “It sounds so cliché, but it takes your breath from you.” The elementary school sits in Coldwater Creek flood plain, 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. For more than two decades, the Corps has been cleaning up the creek. 

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The Corps' report also suggests that they found lower levels of contamination in the area but they did not take any samples within 300 feet of the school. 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 toxics were “far in excess” of what Boston Chemical had expected. Dust samples were also found to be contaminated which were taken from inside the school. 

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The report also states that if anyone comes in close contact with these elements or inhales it, it cause serious injury and health problems. “A significant remedial program will be required to bring conditions at the school in line with expectations,” the report said. The new report is expected to be a major topic of discussion in Tuesday's, October 18, Hazelwood school board meeting. In a statement, the district said that they will take the help and advice with its attorneys and experts to determine the next steps. “Safety is absolutely our top priority for our staff and students,” board president Betsy Rachel said Saturday, October 15. 

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After obtaining a copy through a Freedom of Information Act request, Christen Commuso with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment presented the results of the Corps’ study to the school board in June. “I wouldn’t want my child in this school,” she said. “The effect of these toxins is cumulative.” 

MEAWW previously reported that following the catastrophic explosion at reactor No 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on April 26, 1986, the Soviet government had gone about hastily constructing a steel and concrete "sarcophagus" to reduce the spread of radioactive contamination. That sarcophagus, which is at the verge of collapse, will now be demolished. Experts have said there is a "very high probability" that the massive structure will come tumbling down and that it should be deconstructed before it's too late

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