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High levels of radioactive waste from WWII bombs found at Missouri elementary school

A report states that 22 times the expected amount of radioactive lead was found on the premises

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Water flows in Coldwater Creek on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, behind a row of homes in Missouri’s St. Louis County.

Water flows in Coldwater Creek on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, behind a row of homes at Belcroft Drive and Old Halls Ferry Road in Missouri’s St. Louis County. Environmental investigation consultants have found significant radioactive contamination at an elementary school, which sits in the flood plain of Coldwater Creek which was contaminated by nuclear waste from weapons production during World War II.

Christian Gooden, St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Associated Press

Samples taken from Jana Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri, revealed that the grounds were contaminated with “unacceptable” levels of radioactive waste from World War II nuclear bombs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported.

The news: Samples taken from the playground, library, kitchen HVAC system and classrooms resulted in “far in excess of the natural background” amounts of radioactive chemicals, according to the report by Boston Chemical Data Corp.

  • The report says that 22 times the expected amount of isotope lead-210 was found on the premises.
  • The school sits in the flood plain of Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated by waste from nuclear bombs that were manufactured during WWII, the Post-Dispatch states.

Key quote: “There is no safe level of bomb waste for children,” Karen Nickel, a local activist, said to the Post-Dispatch. This claim is backed up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Details: Marco Kaltofen, the author of the report, told CNN that the source of the contamination, a WWII nuclear waste site, has not yet been cleaned up.

  • “The wastes in this creek come from residues of the Manhattan Engineering District Project. Many properties in this area get tested with some regularity,” Kaltofen said. “Unfortunately, when Coldwater Creek floods its banks, some of that radioactive material is deposited on neighboring land, such as the school.”
  • A statement from the Hazelwood School District says that the district will be meeting with attorneys and experts to determine its next steps.

Dangers of exposure to radioactive chemicals: The CDC states that long-term exposure to radioactive chemicals can increase the likelihood of developing cancer.

  • Exposure to lead at a young age can also severely impact a child’s development, in serious cases leading to brain damage.
  • The CDC reports that lead exposure in children can cause slowed growth, learning and behavior problems, lower IQ and even ADHD.