Years before cancer scare at Colonia High, radioactive rock made headlines in NJ
Middlesex County's Colonia High School, located in Woodbridge, has made national headlines in recent weeks after over 100 former students and faculty were found to have been diagnosed with rare brain tumors.
As first reported on New Jersey 101.5, Al Lupiano, a former Colonia High School student, was the one responsible for linking the people together. He, his wife, and his sister all attended the school in the '90s. All three of them have since come down with rare brain disorders.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection are now leading the investigation into the high instances of brain tumor diagnoses among Colonia High School students and staff.
But this isn't the first time the high school has had questions about the radiation levels in the area. In the '90s, the high school had another scare, this time on a much smaller scale that was ultimately ruled out as a possible concern.
According to the Associated Press, a simple classroom demonstration of a Geiger counter resulted in panic when the radiation detector showed troubling results when a loud clamor was heard over a rock. The high school was evacuated and a HAZMAT team secured the rock in a lead-lined box.
The Department of Health responded to the incident saying:
We learned that one of the school's science teachers was demonstrating the use of a geiger counter (along with an accompanying sample of a low level radioactive source) as part of a science class lesson earlier that day. As part of the demonstration, the teacher used theinstrument to test a collection of rocks stored in the closet of the science class when one of the rocks registered a reading of radioactivity.
The Woodbridge School District superintendent at the time then added:
Radioactivity is ubiquitous in the environment. Based on our information regarding the rock, and the surveys conducted of our staff, we are confident that it is safe for the children to return to school.
While there is no known direct correlation between this incident and the cluster of brain tumors that has emerged from former students and staff, it is worth noting the history of that area that could have potentially led to both incidents.
In a conversation with NJSpotlight, Al Lupiano said that a secret World War II lab in Middlesex Borough, called the Middlesex Sampling Plant, is said to have been used during the Manhattan Project, a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons.
Potentially contaminated soil had been removed from the Middlesex Borough property over the years, with some of the soil used for construction right around the time of the construction of Colonia High School.
See Al Luciano's entire NJSpotlight interview below.
In the meantime, the investigation continues.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.