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Test shows radioactive material in playground of Florissant, Mo., elementary

Oct. 17, 2022
Tests of soil, dust and plants at Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District detected levels 22 times greater than expected.

Radioactive waste up to 22 times the expected level has been found in a kindergarten play area at an elementary school in Florissant, Mo.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that tests of soil, dust and plants at Jana Elementary School in the Hazelwood School District detected the radioactive materials.

The campus sits in the flood plain of Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated by waste from nuclear bombs manufactured during World War II.

Samples taken on Aug. 15 from the school's library, kitchen, HVAC system, classrooms, fields and playgrounds found “far in excess of the natural background” of radioactive isotope lead-210, polonium, radium and other toxins, said the report from Boston Chemical Data Corp.

The Hazelwood School Board is scheduled to discuss the report in a closed session Tuesday. The district issued a statement on Friday that said the board would consult with attorneys and experts to determine its next steps.

Previous testing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which started in 2018, also revealed contamination, but not to the extent found in the Boston Chemical report. No samples from the Army Corps’ tests came within 300 feet of the school building; none were taken from inside the school.

 Christen Commuso of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment obtained the results of the Army Corps’ study in the spring through a Freedom of Information Act request. She presented the information to the Hazelwood School Board in June. 

Some parents approached the school board to ask for more testing and were refused, but before school resumed in August, families received a letter that another study would be conducted.    

The Boston Chemical report doesn’t say who funded the company’s study.

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