Trace Amounts Of Radioactive Material Found In Weston Middle School

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Weston Middle School officials are taking inventory of science department storage areas after small amounts of radioactive material were found in an unopened experiment kit from the early 1990's. Photo Credit: File

WESTON, Conn. -- Staff at Weston Middle School located a very small amount of three radioactive compounds in an unopened science kit Tuesday, but it does not pose a threat to students or teachers, according to a statement from the school district.

The kit was common in science classrooms until about 20 years ago and was used to conduct experiments to see the interaction of matter with radiation, school officials said. According to the district, those experiments and chemicals "are not a part of the curriculum at this time."

The compounds were purchased in or around 1992 and have remained sealed in their original packaging since that time, school officials said. The compounds include about 2 grams each of thorium nitrate, uranium nitrate and uranium sulfate.

"As soon as the compounds were identified, they were secured by the district’s chemical hygiene officer and placed in a locked location which is inaccessible to students," Weston Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer said in a statement released to the media on Thursday. "As an additional precautionary measure, district officials contacted the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and spoke with the Supervising Radiation Control Physicist who assured us that the materials pose no threat to the health or safety of our students or staff."

State officials informed the school that they had disposed of the chemicals in the appropriate fashion.

The district will conduct a thorough review of all science department storage areas to confirm that there are no other chemicals that are unaccounted for, Palmer added in the statement.

"We have been advised by DEEP that the levels of radiation involved with these small samples are much lower than the radiation levels we are exposed to on a daily basis by such common objects as granite countertops and granite outcroppings in our backyards," Palmer continued in the statement. "However, the safety of our students and staff is our highest priority, and we will continue to address this matter with the utmost urgency."

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