FHHS and the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works

Posted on 05/24/2018
FHHS and the Weldon Spring Ordnance Works

The first comprehensive four-year Francis Howell High School was built on “Howell Prairie” and opened in 1915. In 1940, the U.S. Government seized 18,000 acres in southeastern St. Charles County (including the high school site) and forcibly relocated more than 500 residents. The United States War Department used the 30 square mile location to build the Atlas Powder Company, an ordnance works that would manufacture TNT for the war effort.

A decade later, the U.S. Government provided a quit claim deed to the District for approximately 40 acres. That property included the administration building of the former Weldon Spring Ordnance Works, which would be used as the Francis Howell Community High School beginning in the fall of 1950.

In 1955, the Atomic Energy Commission acquired property approximately one mile south of the high school, and from 1957 to 1966, Mallinckrodt, Inc. processed uranium ore at that location under contract to the U.S. Government. That property is currently managed by the Department of Energy.

The Francis Howell High School location has been in continuous use since 1950, and the current high school building was opened in 2011. Prior to and during construction of the new Francis Howell High School building, the District commissioned a thorough two-phase environmental site assessment that found there was no significant soil, groundwater, or surface water contamination from the Weldon Spring Superfund Site or any related on- or off-site sources.

The District is aware of efforts by a group of former Francis Howell High School students and staff calling for a government investigation to determine if their health problems are related to exposure to contaminants from the former Weldon Spring Ordnance Works. The District will cooperate fully with any official government study regarding the health of former Francis Howell High School students and staff.

The Department of Energy’s annual report on the status of the Weldon Spring site is available online.

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