Army Corps of Engineers explains results indicating elementary school is safe

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 10:20 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) -- The Army Corps of Engineers is standing by its results that concluded there are not dangerous levels of radioactive chemicals at Jana Elementary School.

On Thursday, the agency held an open house at Florissant Municipal Court to allow the public to ask questions and see how the results were produced.

“I’m concerned about people that have so much fear about the Coldwater Creek,” says concerned resident David Tremaine. “My main thing. Why are people getting sick? If it’s not the radiation.”

“We do believe from a radiological standpoint that the school is safe,” says Col. Kevin Golinghorst of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps of Engineers took a show-and-tell approach to explain the 1,000 samples that were taken at the site and retested, in addition to displaying the equipment used to collect the data.

“The answers that I’ve gotten made me feel more comfortable with the situation and that maybe it is okay for students to attend school there,” says Tremaine.

However, Boston Chemical Data Corp. disagrees with the Army Corps of Engineer’s results and believes nuclear waste lives inside the school at a rate 20 times higher than normal.

“We tested for additional isotopes that are in Coldwater Creek and in this area that the Army Corps didn’t test for,” says Marco Kaltofen, president of Boston Chemical Data Group.

The firm was hired to test the land around Jana Elementary as part of a class action lawsuit.

Its findings caused the school to make national headlines, but Kaltofen tells News 4 his decades of experience have not been compromised.

“This is work that I’ve done before and this is work that I will continue to do after. Whether this law firm wins or loses the lawsuit I get paid exactly the same,” says Kaltofen.

“All of the investigation that we’ve been doing and the contamination that we’ve been finding indicate that the contamination is not moving,” says Phil Mosdr of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Despite both tests having similar results, there continues to be disagreement on how to interpret it.

SRI, another engineering firm has also been brought in to independently test for radioactivity. Their findings mirrored the Army Corps data of low-level nuclear materials on Jana Elementary’s campus.

“I am a parent,” says Kaltofen. “I wouldn’t send my kids to the school until it gets clean.”

“Yes. I would, I send my child to Jana Elementary,” says Col. Golinghorst.

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to publish a final report about radioactive testing at Jana Elementary and Coldwater Creek in 2023. Those interested in asking the agency questions about the results should email TeamSTL-PAO@usace.army.mil.