Congresswoman Bush Introduces Bill to Cleanup Jana Elementary and Test Hazelwood School District for Radioactive Waste
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 25, 2023) — Today, Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Justice for Jana Elementary Act of 2023, legislation to require the cleanup of Jana Elementary School in Florissant, Missouri located in the Congresswoman’s district. The bill would require the United States Army Corps of Engineers to test the entirety of the Hazelwood School District—which Jana is a part of—for radioactive waste. This historic legislation would create a fund for schools impacted by Manhattan Project waste to request financial assistance for testing of their facilities, as well as direct the Department of Energy to review all testing performed at Jana Elementary and determine if the testing was reliable. In February 2023, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the Justice for Jana Elementary Act of 2023, companion legislation in the United States Senate.
“No one should have to live with hazardous radiation in our community, let alone elementary school children. Parents and community members deserve to know that our children’s learning environment is safe.” said Congresswoman Bush. “Our government created this waste to construct the most deadly nuclear weapon in history. They have a responsibility to clean it up and ensure that the safety and well-being of our community is a top priority. As a Congresswoman and a community member, I will not stop advocating for the cleanup of not only Jana Elementary, but of Coldwater Creek and our entire community.”
"Hazardous radioactive contamination has no place in schools,” said Senator Hawley. “Students and parents of Jana Elementary and the Hazelwood School District deserve to know that their schools are safe. Federal authorities created this problem years ago and refused to fix it. Now the federal government must take responsibility and make things right."
“I cannot tell you how grateful I am to see continuing bipartisan support from Senator Josh Hawley and Congresswoman Cori Bush on this issue. I was a child who attended a Hazelwood grade school through high school. My parents didn't know their children needed protection from exposure to this radioactive waste. There was no one of authority stepping up to protect us. That all changes with this legislation moving forward, our children will finally be protected in their schools from bomb waste.” said Karen Nickel, Just Moms STL.
"We are glad to see Rep. Bush and Sen. Hawley take seriously the health and wellbeing of children and teachers (both past and present) by pushing for important legislation that allows for a more protective clean up of weaponized radioactive waste, abandoned by the Department of Energy, for schools like Jana Elementary. Clean up under this proposed legislation sets the important standard that radioactive waste, at all levels above background level (or natural radiation) is an unnecessary and dangerous risk, to which no child or teacher should ever be exposed. Our schools and greater community deserve protection from environmental hazards and restorative justice. People throughout the St. Louis Region have experienced decades of exposure to radioactive contamination; accountability and solutions for such are long overdue." said Ashley Bernaugh, Jana PTA President. "We appreciate the efforts shown by Rep. Bush and will continue to advocate and educate, along with our local, state, and national PTA organizations on the importance of school safety and protection from environmental dangers."
This bipartisan, bicameral legislation follows an independent report from Boston Chemical Data Corp finding traces of radioactive waste at Jana Elementary School in October 2022. Jana Elementary School sits near Coldwater Creek which was used as a dumping ground for the Manhattan Project. Decades later, these same toxic contaminants can still be found in Coldwater Creek.
Specifically, the Justice for Jana Act of 2023 would:
- Direct the Army Corps to establish new remediation goals to clean up Jana Elementary
- Direct the Army Corps to test all Hazelwood School District schools for radioactive contaminants
- Direct the Department of Energy to review all testing performed at Jana Elementary and determine if the testing was reliable; and
- Create a fund to permit localities with schools impacted by Manhattan Project-era atomic programs to request financial assistance for radioactive testing or construction of new school facilities
Immediately after the Boston Chemical Data Corp report was released, Congresswoman Bush sent a letter to United States Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant General Spellmon demanding their agencies remediate radioactive contamination within Jana Elementary and hold a public briefing for community members regarding their efforts.
In January, Congresswoman Bush and Senator Hawley sent a letter to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant General Spellmon calling for additional radioactive testing for the entire Hazelwood School District.
Congresswoman Bush has been involved in advocating for the cleanup of Coldwater Creek before she was in office. Since coming to Congress, Congresswoman Bush has:
- Introduced the Coldwater Creek Signage Act which would requires signage to be posted along Coldwater Creek informing residents of the dangers of radioactive waste exposure.
- Initiated a federal review with the Government Accountability Office for the cleanup of radioactive contamination of Coldwater Creek in St. Louis County.
Congresswoman Cori Bush sits on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, serves as the Ranking Member of Oversight Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, and proudly represents St. Louis as a politivist in the halls of the United States Congress.