Nov 20, 2008

Connecticut Officials Knew of Uranium in School Water for Two Years

Two Madison, Conn. schools now using bottled water for drinking and cooking

Local and state officials in Connecticut knew for two years that water in the area near two schools contained elevated levels of uranium, but they made no public announcement about the issue, Greenwire and the New Haven Register reported.

School district officials at Kathleen H. Ryerson Elementary School and Robert H. Brown Middle School in Madison, Conn., disabled all water fountains and supplied bottled water for drinking and cooking after water supplies tested positive for higher-than-normal levels of uranium. The tests were conducted after an anonymous letter to school officials about elevated uranium levels in the groundwater.

Superintendent of Schools David Klein wrote in a press release letter to parents Nov. 14 that uranium, a mildly radioactive substance that can cause kidney disease, was found in water at both schools at a level more than three times the standard accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Town Department of Public Health (DPH) Director John Bowers received a letter about high uranium levels in the community from the state's Public Health Department in 2006, he said at a Nov. 17 public meeting. He followed all state and federal laws, Bowers said, but told no one else in town government and made no announcement about the letter.

There is no standard for schools, or mandatory testing for schools, a state DPH official said. The area has likely had high uranium levels since wells were drilled decades ago, said the agency's drinking water section chief.