FLORISSANT, Mo. – A new report released Tuesday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deems Jana Elementary School as “safe” amid prolonged concerns over radioactive waste.
The USACE St. Louis District released the first of three anticipated reports on sampling and testing for radioactive waste at the north county school.
The report released Tuesday focused on structural sampling. Crews conducted tests on many indoor surfaces and items, including interior and exterior walls, floors, tables, cabinets, desks, bookshelves and kitchen equipment. Crews also tested the pavement and recreational equipment outdoors.
Ultimately, the first report indicated that the school was safe from a radiological standpoint.
“This final report builds upon the preliminary results we shared with the community last November and provides additional data from our structural surveys and sampling, all of which have confirmed that there are no radiological concerns within the school,” said Phil Moser, St. Louis District program manager for FUSRAP. “Our efforts do not stop here. We are preparing two additional reports on our sampling and testing efforts and will make this information available within the next few months to continue to share data with the community and keep everyone informed.”
Environmental investigation consultants pointed out radioactive contamination at the school last year. Jana Elementary opened in 1970 and sits in the flood plain of Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated with radioactive waste generated from the production of atomic weapons in the 1940s and 50s.
Concerns about contamination resurfaced and gained national attention last October, months after historic flash flooding slammed the St. Louis region. Jana Elementary closed down. Students have since moved to other buildings within the Hazelwood School District.
Following the release of the report, a spokesperson from the Hazelwood School District told FOX 2 they were aware of the findings, but did not have anything new to add based on the report.
The school district then followed up with this statement, in part:
“The Board and administration recognize that the closure of Jana Elementary and the subsequent redistricting of students and reassignment of staff to other district schools has not been an easy transition.
However, there is no expectation that Jana Elementary will reopen, and students and staff will remain at their current schools. At the same time, we are encouraged by the resilience our Hazelwood School District community has shown throughout this season of change and uncertainty. As we look to the future, we are committed to supporting all of our students and staff in fully embracing their new school communities.”
USACE says crews have collected hundreds of samples since last October. Remediation efforts around Coldwater Creek have been ongoing for several years and expected to be completed around 2038.
Meanwhile, Missouri U.S. Rep. Cori Bush and Sen. Josh Hawley have both introduced legislation known as the Justice for Jana Elementary Act of 2023, both claiming more action is needed.
“No one should have to live with hazardous radiation in our community, let alone elementary school children. Parents and community members deserve to know that our children’s learning environment is safe.” said Bush. “Our government created this waste to construct the most deadly nuclear weapon in history. They have a responsibility to clean it up and ensure that the safety and well-being of our community is a top priority. As a Congresswoman and a community member, I will not stop advocating for the cleanup of not only Jana Elementary, but of Coldwater Creek and our entire community.”
“Hazardous radioactive contamination has no place in schools,” said Hawley. “Students and parents of Jana Elementary and the Hazelwood School District deserve to know that their schools are safe. Federal authorities created this problem years ago and refused to fix it. Now the federal government must take responsibility and make things right.”
USACE says the other two reports are “currently under development.” They will provide more information on sampling and testing activities that occurred inside and outside the school building and on the playground. These reports could be made public in the next few monts.