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'I've lost count': Jana Elementary parents frustrated after conflicting reports over radioactivity at school

A third testing group, SCI Engineering Inc., has determined the levels of radioactivity found at Jana Elementary School are safe.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — After months of frustration following years of waiting, the Jana Elementary community has even more piled on its plate.

A third testing group, SCI Engineering Inc., has determined the levels of radioactivity found at Jana Elementary School are safe.

This comes after testing group Boston Chemical Data Corp. found high levels of radioactivity at the school, which has been learning virtually for weeks since.

Parents and community members of Jana Elementary School heard the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and SCI Engineering's radioactive contamination reports from the school during a regularly scheduled Tuesday night meeting. SCI Engineering supported USACE's preliminary findings, which showed no levels of radiation higher than "the level of radioactivity Mother Nature already provides."

According to SCI Engineering Inc.'s website, the USACE is one of its federal clients.

But the Boston Chemical Data Corp. study of Jana Elementary said the test results indicate high levels of radioactive lead, Polonium also known as Pb 210 found in the following areas:

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

5 On Your Side talked with members of the Jana Elementary community who said they are frustrated after so much back and forth, especially after Tuesday's meeting.

“What are we supposed to do as a community? How do we fix this problem?" school board member Langley asked at the meeting.

Parents, teachers, school board members and the residents of north St. Louis County are all asking that same question.

"I’m personally satisfied that the materials we found, high levels of lead 210 and these radioactive microparticles are in fact related to the material that is in Coldwater Creek," Dr. Marco Kaltofen, Boston Chemical Data Corp. Principal Investigator, said at the meeting.

Jana PTA President Ashley Bernaugh, one of the main voices pushing further testing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who she says is responsible for the waste, said she's concerned and frustrated.

“It seems to be these conversations are taking place everywhere but with us. We would appreciate more than just a seat at the table to listen," she said.

At this point, she said so much testing has been done, she feels as if it's hard to keep track of it all.

“It really does fly in the face of concerned parents who have lost so much and who have been asked to carry so much of this burden themselves, on top of their kids," she said. 

5 On Your Side is continuing to press for answers on how each of these results differs.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it did not conduct an x-ray analysis during its sample study.

Boston Chemical Data Corp. said it did and attributes that fact to the difference in the two outcomes.

It is unclear whether the third group used this during testing.

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