U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Preliminary results show no areas of concern at Jana Elementary School

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 9:32 AM CST
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FLORISSANT, Mo. (KMOV) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they have received preliminary results that show no areas of concern at Jana Elementary School in Florissant.

The results released Wednesday showed no presence of radioactive material above the expected range of background levels, according to the agency.

“From a radiological standpoint, the school is safe,” said Col. Kevin Golinghorst, St. Louis District commander. “We owe it to the public and the parents and children of Jana Elementary School to make informed decisions focused on the safety of the community, and we will continue to take effective actions using accurate data.”

The structure surveys were conducted inside and around the exterior of the school building. Soil samples were taken from 53 different locations on school grounds.

“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,” said Golinghorst. “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.”

USACE presented their findings during a school board meeting today, which was met with immediate concern and skepticism from families and some board members.

“We will not allow the army corps of engineers, department of energy, friends and contractors to continue to mislead our school district. It is absolutely absurd,” said Ashley Bernaugh, PTA President for Jana Elementary. “We want our school to be safe, it must be safe. It must be cleaned up, we want fixed. We want it fixed yesterday.”

“I just don’t want to raise my family there. It’s not worth the risk in my opinion,” said William Johnson.

Johnson and his family lived near Jana elementary and one of his daughters was still attending the school until last month. They moved out of the area for good soon after the Boston Chemical Data Corp. study revealed high levels of radioactive contamination near the school.

“I want to go on their testing, [the USACE], just like I went on the other people that put their report. I just don’t understand how one series of tests can produce all these different levels of different things and how another test can produce none,” said Johnson.

“I think that the corps has told part of the story. And i don’t doubt that the numbers for what they have are accurate because they are professionals,” said Marco Kaltofen.

Kaltofen, who wrote the Boston chemical study, claims the U.S. Army corps of engineers did not test enough of their samples for certain radioactive isotypes or used their methods for sampling microscopic particles.

“We tested lead 210 in our samples, and I was actually surprised that the army corps only tested 22 of their 1000 samples for lead 210. Now, I appreciate that they did a lot of work and they tested a lot of other things. But lead 210 was the one thing we found at the highest levels,” he said.

Even with the USACE’s findings, the community is still waiting for them to provide data and a completed report to back up their claims.

“We don’t want to bring incomplete or raw data. We want to make sure we have the proper time to put it together and do our own analysis, but the preliminary assessment is that it is safe from radiological concerns,” said Golinghorst. “Today was a chance to inform about the process.”

Community members can learn more about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ testing procedures, results and program history during a public engagement on Nov. 16. More information about this public town hall will be announced soon.