Radioactive waste found on school grounds that was former nuclear weapons site

Radioactive waste has been found at a primary school where nuclear weapons are known to have been produced during World War 2.

The significant contamination has been found in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, at the Jana Elementary School.

A report by environmental investigation consultants from Boston Chemical Data Corp confirmed previous concerns about the potential for radioactive waste on the grounds that had been expressed in an Army Corps of Engineers study.

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The latest analysis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, was carried out after samples were obtained in August from the school.

Ashley Bernaugh, president of the Jana Parent Teacher Association whose son attends the school, said: "I was heartbroken. It sounds so cliché, but it takes your breath from you."

The school is situated in the flood plain of Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated by nuclear waste from weapons that were made during the war.

Waste is known to have been dumped at sites close to the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which lies next to the creek that flows into the Missouri River.

Attempts to clean up the creek have been ongoing for more than 20 years.

The previous study reported lower contamination levels, but no samples were taken within 300ft of the school.

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This latest report though included samples acquired from Jana's playgrounds, fields, classrooms, library and kitchen with subsequent levels of the radioactive isotope lead-210, polonium, radium and other toxins described as "far in excess" of what Boston Chemical had expected.

Dust samples from inside the school were also found to be contaminated, with the report warning that inhaling or ingesting these radioactive materials can cause significant injury.

The report concluded: "A significant remedial programme will be required to bring conditions at the school in line with expectations."

School officials are now seeking guidance on what should be their next steps with a spokesperson stating: "Safety is absolutely our top priority for our staff and students."

The study's results were presented to the school board in June by Christen Commuso, of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, after she made a Freedom of Information Act request and admitted: "I wouldn’t want my child in this school. The effect of these toxins is cumulative."


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