While the debate rages on whether or not the Iraqis were hiding dangerous chemical weapons, a program in Iowa recently took many dangerous chemicals out of schools. Tom Anderson oversaw the program for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources which gathered up dangerous items from 65 schools. He says they targeted radioactive material, control substances, and explosives or shock sensitive materials. Anderson says some of the chemicals have been hidden for years, but not for nefarious reasons. He says the materials were typically 20 and 30 years old and had migrated to the backs of storage closets as teachers left schools and new teachers came in. or as the curriculum changed. Anderson says the schools involved had to undergo and education program that taught teachers and administrators what to look for and how to properly get rid of or store potentially dangerous chemicals. Anderson says the amount of chemicals that pose a problem is really very small overall, but there are more out there.He says there are other schools that would benefit from the project, but he says the department doesn’t have the funds to expand the program. He says schools can contract with a private firm to get rid of the chemicals if necessary. He says it’s important that schools check their closets. He says we’ve been lucky there haven’t been any accidents in Iowa.Anderson says the cleanup for the 65 schools cost 110-thousand dollars. He says there is aid available from private companies.
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