There is significant radioactive contamination at an elementary school in suburban St. Louis where nuclear weapons were produced during World War II, according to a new report by environmental investigation consultants.
The report by Boston Chemical Data Corp. confirmed fears about contamination at Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District in Florissant raised by a previous Army Corps of Engineers study.
The new report is based on samples taken in August from the school, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boston Chemical did not say who or what requested and funded the report.
“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 school sits in 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 cleaning up the creek for more than 20 years.
The Corps’ report also found contamination in the area but at much at lower levels, and it didn’t 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 toxins were “far in excess” of what Boston Chemical had expected. Dust samples taken inside the school were found to be contaminated.
Inhaling or ingesting these radioactive materials can cause significant injury, the report said.