Some parents of children at Gana Elementary School in the suburbs of St. Louis say they will seek check-ups and guidance from doctors about what to do next, after a privately funded environmental study found radioactive contamination inside the school and on the playground.
The Hazelwood Board of Education announced on Tuesday Planning to close primary school In Florissant, Missouri, indefinitely and cleaned up. Roughly 400 students – 80% of whom are black – will do virtual learning right now, then are sent to some of the 19 other districts elementary schools Starting November 28.
It is not clear how long the cleaning process will take, what it will involve or who will pay for it. A spokeswoman for the district declined to comment other than a written statement that outlined the plan to close the school and relocate the children.
Cold Water Creek runs directly behind Jana Elementary School, which has educated thousands of children since it opened 50 years ago. The creek was polluted in the 1940s and 1950s when waste atomic bomb material manufactured in St. Louis entered the waterway near Lambert Airport, where the waste was stored. The creek extends 19 miles (30 kilometers) before extending into the Missouri River.
The result was an environmental nightmare. For decades, children living near the creek have been hunting reptiles and splashing in the water on hot summer days, unaware of the poison they were playing with.
A 2019 federal report determined that those exposed to Coldwater Creek from the 1960s to the 1990s may be more likely to develop bone cancer, lung cancer and leukemia. Environmentalists and Residents of the area They cited several cases of extremely rare cancers that have sickened and killed people.
The Environmental Protection Agency created the Superfund site in 1989, and the government is spending millions to clean up the mess, although the project is not expected to finish until 2038.
Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder the parents of Jana Elementary were upset by the October 10 report from Boston Chemical Data Corp. , funded by two law firms that sued to claim compensation for illness and death. It found levels of lead 210 radioactive isotopes that were 22 times the level expected in a kindergarten playground. High levels of polonium, radium and other materials were also found inside the school.
Kimberly Anderson told the board of directors during a busy meeting on Tuesday that she is raising three grandchildren who attend Jana Elementary School. She was worried about the health damage that might have already occurred.
Anderson said the district should provide a medical expert who can provide “insight into what I need to look for and what I need to test for my children.”
First of all, Anderson said she plans to have her grandchildren’s blood tested.
Ashley Perno is the president of the Parent-Teacher Association, lives nearby and has a son who attends. The results of the study were described as “terrifying”.
“Laboratory tests would be prudent especially because of the levels of radioactivity and lead present,” she said.
The Army Corps of Engineers earlier found contamination in the nearby woods. But since nothing was found in the area between the woods and the school, the agency did not test the building or the grounds.
Philip Moser, director of the Corps’ former used site repair work program in St. Louis, expressed concerns about the Boston Chemical report, describing it as “incomplete and inconsistent with the approved processes required for an assessment at one of our sites.”
However, it was enough to urge local, state, and federal lawmakers to call for immediate action.
US Representative Cory Bush, a St. Louis Democrat, said the federal government was “responsible for this waste” and needed to clean up.
US Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, wrote to President Joe Biden on Wednesday asking for a federal state of emergency to be declared to expedite treatment. If cleanup is not possible, Hawley said, the government must pay for the new building.
“Parents, children, and residents of this area have waited years for the federal government to complete its clean-up,” Hawley wrote. “Now they are The school contaminated. They deserve immediate help.”
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