Speed Reads

An Irradiated Error

Radioactive waste found at elementary school near World War II nuclear facility

An elementary school in a St. Louis suburb was found to be contaminated with massive levels of radioactive waste from a nearby dump site, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Associated Press reported Monday. 

The outlets cited a report from Boston Chemical Data Corp. examining the soil and surrounding area of Jana Elementary School in Florissant, Missouri. The school is located by Coldwater Creek, which was used as a dump site for World War II-era uranium waste produced at a nearby facility, Insider reported. 

Concerns about potential contamination at the school were previously raised by an Army Corps of Engineers study, and Boston Chemical confirmed these suspicions. The group's report found that the school grounds contained radioactive isotopes 22 times higher than expected. This included traces of dangerous elements such as polonium, radium, and lead-210. 

Following the report, parents and activists voiced their anger about the school area being so heavily inundated with radiation

"I was heartbroken," Ashley Bernaugh, president of the Jana Elementary parent-teacher association, told the Dispatch. "It sounds so cliché, but it takes your breath from you."

Karen Nickel, co-founder of the locally based environmental group Just Moms STL, added, "There is no safe level of bomb waste for children."

In a statement, Hazelwood School District — where Jana Elementary is located — said they were "aware of the report."

"Safety is always our top priority, and we are actively discussing the implications of the findings," the statement said, adding officials would be consulting with attorneys.