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Jana Elementary is 'safe,' Army Corps of Engineers contamination study shows

The government agency delivered the preliminary results during a Hazelwood School Board meeting Wednesday morning.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said preliminary results of contamination testing at Jana Elementary School showed no levels of radiation higher than “the level of radioactivity Mother Nature already provides.”

The preliminary results were delivered during a Hazelwood School Board special meeting Wednesday morning. Previously, the government agency had only tested the banks of Coldwater Creek within the property boundary. 

“From a radiological standpoint, the school is safe,” Col. Kevin Golinghorst with the St. Louis District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday.

According to the Corps and Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, surveys were conducted both inside and outside the Florissant school from 53 locations on school grounds.

Samples were taken on the first and second floors of the elementary school on the floors, walls, furniture and counters. Outside the school, the Corps swabbed the pavement, sidewalks, lower building walls and the playground. All of the samples showed no results above expected background levels of radiation, according to the preliminary results.

Dust samples were also taken from five locations inside the school and tested for isotopic radium, thorium and uranium analysis. Additionally, pavement sediment samples were collected from outdoor surfaces. Four samples were tested for isotopic radium, thorium and uranium analysis at the FUSARP USACE Lab and three samples were sent to an off-site lab for lead 210 analysis.

“We took nearly 1,000 samples and measurements throughout the school and the grounds to help us develop a complete picture of the type of radioactive material present and the risk of exposure,” Golinghorst said. “None of our tests identified the presence of any contamination from activities associated with the Atomic Energy Commission or Manhattan Engineer District which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been investigating near the school under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program.”

This is after an independent report from The Boston Chemical Data Corp. indicated high levels of radioactive Polonium, also known as Pb 210:

  • Inside the Jana Elementary school building (specifically on the cafeteria fan, in the boiler room and in the school library).
  • In Jana Elementary school playground areas’ soil (specifically the kindergarten play area and near the basketball court area).

Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District Program Manager Phil Moser said the new report shows radioactivity contamination remains inside the creekbank itself, and the elementary school showed no signs of radioactivity above normal background levels.

Remediation of places were contamination was found is scheduled for summer 2023, according to FUSARP and the Army Corps.

“Our work does not stop here,” Golinghorst said. “We will continue to prioritize the health and well-being of the community as we execute work under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program.”

Moser said final survey results would be released to the Hazelwood School Board in late December and shared during a public meeting in January. Actual numbers and percentages would be released when final survey results are given.

RELATED: Concerns over Coldwater Creek contamination affecting property values

A public meeting will be held Nov. 16 and to give members of the community a chance to ask questions and to learn more about the Army Corps of Engineers and its testing procedures, results and program history. 

Specific details about the meeting will be released at a later date.

Jana students moved to virtual learning on Oct. 24. Come Nov. 28, those students will report to one of five different schools in the area, including Barrington, Brown, Coldwater, McCurdy and Walker elementary schools.

Read the full summary of preliminary testing results at Jana Elementary:

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