Students at Haddon Township High School in Camden County were evacuated for about half an hour Friday after a report that a student had brought a “potentially dangerous substance” into the school, the school district said in a statement.
“No injuries were reported,” Haddon Township Superintendent Robert Fisicaro said in the statement to parents and staff that his office forwarded to the media.
An assistant to the superintendent said the district would not provide further details on the substance.
The Cherry Hill Courier-Post reported that in an interview, a student said he had brought in a piece of an antique Fiestaware plate to show to a teacher, and that the student’s mother said the plate was glazed with radioactive uranium.
The student told the newspaper he had gotten a Geiger counter, which can measure radiation, for Christmas, and that he and his parents bought the plate at a local antique store to test the device.
Fiestaware plates that contain uranium oxide in the ceramic glaze are considered radioactive.
The student told the Courier-Post he did not know what prompted Friday’s evacuation. The newspaper did not identify him or his mother.
A county law enforcement source confirmed to The Inquirer that the plate was what triggered the evacuation.
Fisicaro did not respond to questions by email from The Inquirer and could not be reached by phone. In his statement, he said that around 11:15 a.m., school officials received a report that “a Haddon Township High School student had brought into school a potentially dangerous substance.”
School officials immediately evacuated the building and contacted authorities, the statement said. The Haddon Township Police Department, Westmont Fire Company No. 1, and the Camden County hazardous materials team responded to the school.
Students returned to their classes within 30 minutes, Fisicaro said in his statement, adding that school buildings had been deemed safe.
In a news release Friday afternoon, Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer and Haddon Township Police Chief Mark Cavallo said detectives are investigating “the possible presence of a hazardous substance” found at the high school.
“There appears to be no danger to the public as a result and all agencies have since departed from school grounds,” the statement said.
A spokesperson for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on what the item was, saying she could not provide any details beyond what was in the news release.
Authorities asked anyone with information on the incident to call Prosecutor’s Office Detective Joe McCalla at 609-775-3203.
Susan Bonuomo, a special-education teacher at the school, told reporters outside the school: “We’re all safe. We were told to evacuate. There was supposedly a dangerous substance. Don’t know where in the school it was supposedly at.”