A lone U.S. senator Wednesday blocked a bill requiring a cleanup of an allegedly radioactive elementary school near St. Louis, even after an ardent appeal to his colleagues by Josh Hawley.
The Missouri senator took to the Senate floor seeking unanimous approval of the “Justice for Jana Elementary Act” he filed last month. It would force the federal government to either clean up the radioactive contamination in and near the school – which was closed in October due to the dangers – or to rebuild it elsewhere.
The federal government acknowledges radioactive contamination near the school in Florissant, Missouri, but denies it’s inside the school. Yet, the school district commissioned an independent test that found radiation in such places as the playground and inside the school kitchen and air ducts, Hawley told his Senate colleagues.
Hawley told The Heartlander he believes Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, blocked the bill at the direction of the Biden administration:
“Well, it was blocked by a Democrat who was told by the Biden administration, the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers to go down there and block it and say that, ‘Well, we can’t do this.’ Well, we absolutely can do it.”
Hawley says he’s undeterred, and will keep pressing the issue on the floor as long as he’s in the Senate. He even hopes Carper will join him.
“I hope that he’ll work with me on this. He said that he wants to work with me and move it forward,” Hawley said.
The radiation is a lethal relic of the development of the first atomic bomb. A processing site in St. Louis left piles of radioactive waste that were buried and reburied through the years in several areas of the region – including near Coldwater Creek, which flows within about 1,000 feet of the school.
Asked if money is a barrier to the federal government rebuilding Jana Elementary, despite all kinds of other federal spending, Hawley said it isn’t.
“No. I mean, rebuilding a school? This would be nothing – it’s not even a rounding error in the federal government’s budget.
“I just think it’s classic bureaucracy. They don’t want to admit that there’s a problem. Their line is, ‘Yeah, there’s contamination near the school within, like, 1,000 feet of the school, but not inside the building and therefore it’s OK.’ And the answer to that is, it’s not OK. The contamination is right by the playground. And other tests, independent tests, have shown contamination in the building.
“That’s why right now the school’s closed and this district is saying we can’t reopen it because we’re not sure that it’s safe. It needs to be cleaned up. The basic principle is, if the government makes a mess the government ought to fix it. And in this case, they ruined the school, so they ought to fix it.”
The students have been parsed out to other Hazelwood District schools. But that’s certainly not doing enough for these families who’ve had their lives disrupted and their future health called into question, Hawley argued on the Senate floor.
“Imagine being a parent and waking up to this headline: ‘Missouri elementary school to close after report finds radioactive contamination,’” Hawley argued.
“Let’s get this straight here,” he further told The Heartlander. “These kids at this school in St. Louis and Florissant aren’t asking for a handout. The federal government put radioactive material into their school and into the water near their school. It dates all the way back to the Manhattan Project back in the ‘40s.
“The government needs to clean it up. It’s just that simple. This is not hard. But the Biden administration won’t do it. They won’t give us answers. They won’t answer the parents. They won’t authorize any kind of relief.”
The Missouri House also is considering a pair of resolutions, now combined into one, seeking a congressional investigation into the matter.