More than 22 times the expected amount of radioactive material found at a Missouri elementary school



CNN

St. An elementary school outside St.Louis was found to have “unacceptable” levels of radioactive contamination from waste from the creation of the first atomic bomb in the 1940s, which residents fear could be linked to a host of illnesses, diseases, and illnesses. and surrounding deaths.

According to an independent report by the Boston Chemical Data Corporation, “unacceptable” radioactive levels were found at the Jana School in Florissant, Missouri.

“Jana School, like many homes, organizations and businesses in the area, borders Coldwater Creek. This waterway has been contaminated by the discharge of radioactive waste that has not yet been cleaned, starting shortly after the Second World War”, said Marco Kaltofen, the author of the study.

“The debris in the creek comes from the debris from the Manhattan Engineering District Project. Many properties in this area are tested on a regular basis,” Kaltofen told CNN. “Unfortunately, when Coldwater Creek overflows its banks, some of this radioactive material is deposited on adjacent land, such as at the school.”

In a statement Friday, the school district said it was aware of the report. “Safety is always our top priority, and we are actively discussing the implications of the findings. The Board of Education will consult with attorneys and experts to determine next steps in this area of ​​investigation.”

A school board meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday night. The PTA says it is constantly working to keep the area safe for children. It is being asked to write letters to community leaders and elected officials. A sample message reads:

“The radioactive contamination found inside and outside the Jana Primary School is an unacceptable threat. I request the immediate cleanup of hazardous waste on the Jana Elementary School property and building in its entirety to ensure the safety of our children, teachers and school staff.”

In August of this year, 32 soil, dust and plant samples were taken from the school for analysis. Samples were collected from locations throughout the school, such as the library, ventilation system, and classroom surfaces.

“The most striking result of the August 2022 testing at the Jana school was that the level of the radioactive isotope lead-210 found in the school grounds was completely unacceptable,” the report said.

Levels of radioactive lead, known as lead-210, found in the kindergarten playground were “more than 22 times the expected background,” and levels of lead-210 in the school’s basketball courts were “12 times the expected background.” the report said.

Lead exposure can affect almost every system in the body and can damage the brain and nervous system. It can slow growth and development and cause learning and behavioral problems, including reduced IQ, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and hearing and speech problems. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe blood lead level in children.

Additionally, increased exposure to radioactive materials can lead to cancer later in life, according to the CDC. A person can spread radioactive materials, such as dust, to other people through their clothing.

“People who are contaminated from the outside can spread the contamination by touching surfaces, sitting on a chair or walking through a house. Contaminants can easily fall off clothing and contaminate other surfaces,” the CDC explained.

Low levels of radiation exist naturally and exposure from everyday objects is also possible.

Jana Elementary School serves more than 400 students in Florissant, Missouri and is located near Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated by waste from uranium processing used as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb in the 1940s and 50s, according to the Toxic Substances Agency. and the Disease Registry, a federal public health agency.

Radioactive waste was improperly stored and contaminated Coldwater Creek decades ago. The Jana School is bordered on both sides by the stream and one of the polluted tributaries.

In a 2019 report by the agency, local residents reported numerous illnesses and deaths believed to be linked to the site. However, the agency was unable to determine whether any of these illnesses were definitely caused by exposure to pollutants.

“Radiological contamination in and around Coldwater Creek prior to remedial activities may have increased the risk of certain types of cancer in people who played or lived there,” the report said.

The US Army Corps of Engineers initially detected radioactive material near the school grounds in 2018, according to the independent report, and confirmed its presence with further tests between 2019 and 2021. But the Army Corps tests only included samples from outside the school, no. and within school property, the report said.

Efforts to reach the Army Corps have not been returned.