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Sen. Hawley gets key endorsement for the Justice for Jana Act, calls for federal funding to cleanup toxins

In March, Sen. Hawley demanded the passage of a bill that would clean up Jana Elementary School and conduct testing on Hazelwood School District property.

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Sen. Hawley received a key endorsement for the Justice for Jana Elementary Act, which calls for millions in federal funding to cleanup toxins at the school. 

This comes after a move to pass legislation before Congress almost a month ago hit another dead-end.

Hawley spoke on the U.S. Senate floor back in March and sought justice for the parents, students and staff of Jana Elementary School, who live in Florissant near St. Louis. Something Hawley said they all deserve.

“For the ordeal that they are facing now, for the ordeal that they have been put through for months, and frankly, for the ordeal that they have suffered through for years of lies from the federal government, of misdirection from the federal government and outright falsehoods that this community has had to endure,” he said in his remarks to Congress. 

In October, teachers packed up their classrooms in a matter of 48 hours to conduct virtual learning for their students after reports of radioactive contamination at the school

According to a news release from Hawley's office, Hawley said, “Imagine being a parent and waking up to this headline: ‘Missouri elementary school to close after report finds radioactive contamination.’ The school board had no choice, they found radioactive material in their kids’ building so they shut down the school.” 

He also said, where was the radioactive contamination you may ask? “It was on the playground … it was in the kitchens … air ducts of the school …,” he said. 

Then, how did radioactive material get into a school? The answer, he said, is the contaminants came from the federal government. 

Hawley said the issue dates back to the 1940s, when the federal government utilized land in the St. Louis area to produce nuclear weapons during the Manhattan Project. According to the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), an environmental organization for clean, water, and air, Mallinckrodt Chemical Works made most of the uranium needed for the construction of the first atomic bomb at their factory previously located north of downtown St. Louis near the Mississippi River.

After the project was completed, Hawley said the federal government transferred most of the waste to St. Louis Lambert International Airport, where it “sat for decades.”

“And by sat, I mean it leached into the air, it leached into the soil, it leached into the groundwater,” he said. 

The contamination polluted nearby water including in Coldwater Creek, he said. The creek was tested several times which found radioactive material. The creek snakes throughout several communities including one near Jana Elementary School and its playground. 

“A creek that is known by the government to be contaminated with radioactive material … that the government has allowed to be put in the water,” he said in his remarks. 

He asked: What is the federal government doing about all of this?


“The parents have gotten the ‘run-around’ for months now from the federal government,” he said. 

Hawley also referenced the federal agencies that parents and advocates asked to properly test the school and double-check results from the federal level, but to no avail. This included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy, which Hawley said blamed each other as to who bears responsibility.

Hawley said he was speaking on behalf of the parents and students at the school district to fix it. 

Hawley “called out the Biden administration for its lack of action on the cleanup and pledged to hold all nominees to positions of the Department of Energy until the issue is resolved,” according to the release from his office. 

He said he wrote to President Biden about the issue saying, “It is time for this administration to step up — the army corps and the energy department both work for the president — fix this.” 

Hawley said he has yet to receive a response amid the “explosion of auto-immune diseases” in the community surrounding Jana Elementary School.

“Do you think these people should wait any longer? I don’t,” Hawley said. 

If the Biden administration does not act on this issue, then Congress should act, Hawley demanded in his remarks.  

In February, Hawley initially introduced the new bill requiring the cleanup of Jana Elementary and testing on all Hazelwood School District property by the army corps. 

“We can send the message that no matter who you are, no matter where you work, no matter how poor you may be, the U.S. Senate will get something done for you," he said. "We ought to send that message today. I will not allow their situation to be forgotten and I will not be told on their behalf just wait another 50 years."

To watch Hawley’s full remarks, click here

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