This followed a previous assessment made by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which also discovered high levels of radiation near the elementary school in suburban St. Louis. The latest report, which comprised indoor testing and more extensive samples from the school grounds, is even more shocking as it verified fears of contamination.
Based on dust and soil samples collected in August, scientists discovered damaging, radioactive material in several locations inside the school, including the gymnasium and kitchen as well as on the grounds.
The researchers found that levels of the isotope lead-210 were more than 22 times the anticipated background level in an outdoor, kindergarten play area.
Apart from the radioactive lead isotope, the researchers also detected high levels of radium-266, polonium-210, several isotopes of thorium and other compounds in and around the school. (Related: Soil around Fukushima site remains contaminated with dangerous radioactive waste)
The report stated that inhaling, ingesting or even mere skin contact with these particles can cause "significant injury to humans."
Jana Elementary School is located near a small stream known as Coldwater Creek, which was contaminated with uranium and other radioactive waste from a World War II.
A 21.7-acre area upstream of Jana Elementary School, called the St. Louis Airport Site, served as the storage and dumping area for radioactive material made as part of the Manhattan Project for decades.
From there, nuclear waste leaked into the ground and springs of Coldwater Creek and flowed down the branch of the Missouri River.
Ashley Bernaugh, president of the Jana Elementary School parent-teacher association, told National Public Radio that she "was heartbroken" when she learned of the report.
"It sounds so cliché, but it takes your breath from you," Bernaugh said.
In response to the findings, the school district issued a statement last October 14 stating it was "aware of the report regarding radioactive contamination at Jana Elementary."
The district is now working on the next steps, such as consulting legal and scientific experts. "Safety is always our top priority, and we are actively discussing the implications of the findings," the school district said in a statement.
Coldwater Creek's cleanup has been continuing for more than two decades, but the restoration efforts were not enough.
In 2021, the Army Corps of Engineers moved the completion date for the cleanup to 2038.
"This has been in our community for over 80 years. We expect the school board to make the agencies responsible for this to come in and clean it up," Bernaugh told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
For the time being, the next steps for the school, its students and the community are still uncertain.
Meanwhile, the Hazelwood School District announced recently that Jana Elementary School will turn to virtual learning while school officials work on transferring students to various schools in the district in the coming weeks.
"The Hazelwood School District Board of Education will be working with our legal counsel to communicate to the appropriate agencies responsible, the necessity to immediately clean up and remediate any and all hazardous waste at Jana Elementary and any other District sites," the school district said in a statement.
The school district warned parents in August about possible hazards and disruptions of classes after the Army Corps of Engineers testing discovered radioactive contamination on the banks of the creek, which was at the edge of the school's property.
Watch the video below to know how radioactive the water from Pilgrim Nuclear Plant is released into Cape Cod Bay.
This video is from the What is happening channel on Brighteon.com.