Missouri lawmakers urge the federal government to act following radioactive contamination reports at Jana Elementary School

Jana Elementary School to close, students will begin virtual learning after radioactive waste...
Jana Elementary School to close, students will begin virtual learning after radioactive waste found
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 3:59 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Congresswoman Cori Bush is the latest to write a letter to the federal government urging those in office to act after radioactive waste was found at Jana Elementary School in Florissant.

Bush sent a letter to the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demanding the agencies hold a public briefing to tell the community about their efforts.

“Our St. Louis community is in urgent need of clarification on what steps your agencies are taking to remediate the concerns from this recent report,” Bush said in a press release. “We need to see swift action to ensure that we minimize disruptions to the lives of our children and families.”

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday calling him to “declare a federal emergency and immediately authorize federal relief. The federal government bears ultimate responsibility for this situation, and it is your administration’s obligation to remedy it.”

The Hazelwood School District decided to close the facility after chemical testing done by Boston Chemical Data Corp showed traces of radioactive contamination in dust in classrooms, the kitchen, the library and the HVAC system. More contamination was found outside on the surface of a playground and ballfields.

Students will be moving to virtual learning until the school district assigns them to other schools for the next semester.

“The parents, children, and residents of this area have waited years for the federal government to complete its cleanup. Now their school is contaminated. They deserve immediate relief. You should act without delay to declare a federal emergency and authorize federal assistance,” Hawley said in the letter.

Hawley said if immediate cleanup isn’t feasible, then the federal government should provide the needed funds to rebuild the school at a different site.

“The federal government should never subject children in this country to radioactive contamination in their schools. And parents and other residents of the area should not have to wait any longer for cleanup and relief. The Army Corps has been “cleaning up” the contamination site for at least two decades,” Hawley wrote. “Enough is enough. I ask you to act without delay.”

Jana Elementary School sits near Coldwater Creek. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has been digging up radioactive waste along the banks of the creek in recent years. The creek is near where radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project was dumped in the 1940s and 1950s. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division within the CDC, concluded in 2018 that radioactive contamination in and around Coldwater Creek could have increased the risk of some types of cancer for people who played or lived there.

On Wednesday, officials with the Army Corp of Engineers said they are going to do further testing both up and downstream along Coldwater Creek to the Missouri River.