Independent report shows unsafe levels of radioactive material inside North County school

Published: Oct. 15, 2022 at 9:02 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2022 at 5:09 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - According to an independent report, a report separate from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report, an unsafe level of radioactive waste is present inside a north St. Louis County elementary school.

The Hazelwood School District allowed new, independent testing of hazardous materials inside and directly outside the school stemming from radioactive runoff from when World War II bombs were built in the area. The runoff affected areas along Coldwater Creek, where Jana Elementary is located.

The 2022 independent report came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ testing report, which began in 2018. The Corps of Engineers is the federal group tasked with testing and ensuring safe materials/areas.

According to the school district, the Corps of Engineers’ testing showed safe levels of materials present near the school. The new 2022 independent report calls the Army Corps’ testing incomplete and inadequate because the samples weren’t collected from inside the school buildings or the soil immediately surrounding the school buildings.

”My level of concern is almost at a peak level. It’s everything we thought and were concerned could be true,” said Ashley Bernaugh, a Hazelwood parent. “The Army Corps of Engineers absolutely found some of this same material. They found thorium, radium and Uranium. We asked the Army Corps of Engineers to go inside our school building. To go on to the school playground and they refused.”

The new independent report goes on to say it’s not possible to assess the risk to students and employees of Jana Elementary because the Army Corps’ testing was limited to outside of the buildings.

“We hope they will take these results very seriously. We don’t necessarily need further confirmation from the Army Corps of Engineers at this point,” Bernaugh added. “We need the Army Corps of Engineers to come clean up the mess.”

The Hazelwood School District issued the following statement:

“The Hazelwood School District is aware of the report regarding radioactive contamination at Jana Elementary. Safety is always our top priority, and we are actively discussing the implications of the findings. The Board of Education will be consulting with attorneys and experts in this area of testing to determine the next steps.”

“We’d like the next steps to have a hard and steadfast commitment from our school leaders, so that we will get this waste cleaned up at Jana Elementary School,” Bernaugh said.

The St. Louis-area U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is aware of the new report. It will follow up with News 4 in the coming days.