A sarcophagus of U.S. nuclear test waste breaks in the Marshall Islands

A sarcophagus of U.S. nuclear test waste breaks in the Marshall Islands

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted dozens of test explosions of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands. The radioactive waste resulting from these tests was collected and encased in concrete in a sarcophagus located on Runit Island. But the sarcophagus is cracking, and there are concerns that contamination could reach the Pacific Ocean.

After the end of World War II, the U.S. government made the Marshall Islands a testing ground for nuclear weapons. Total in the years 1946–1958 67 bombs were detonated there, including the Bravo hydrogen bomb – The most powerful ever detonated by the United States. The force of the explosion was 15 megatons, a thousand times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The tests took place in the mainownie on the Enewetak and Bikini atolls. Also probnych explosions underwater. As a result of the testow large area has been contaminated. Radioactive dust fell on surrounding islands, including inhabited ones.

Test explosions caused an environmental disaster. This forced the U.S. government to forcibly evacuate residentsoin the islands, although those in the islands had no idea of the huge threat. According to witness accountsow, after the Bravo explosion, children ran out of their huts catching and even eating the falling white flakes thinking they were snow, o ktoso much they have heard.

As a result of the testoThousands of residents were affectedoin the islands. It is not known exactly how many deaths occurred. Evacuees were allowed to wrocic to homeoin 1980. To this day, spor for compensation paid by the US government. Marshall Islands government complains that the amount paid by Washington was too low.

In the late 1970s. The US government has embarked on a program to clean the islands of radioactive wasteow. The work involved 4,000 U.S. troops. They have collected radioactive waste and soil from contaminated islands and deposited it in the approximately 84,000-strong. meteroin a cubic crater on Runit Island in Enewetak Atoll, ktory was formed by a nuclear explosion. The work took three years.

The waste was covered by a 46-centimeter-thickoIn a concrete dome, ktowhich, by the way, was supposed to be a temporary solution. The bottom of the crater was not in any wayob protected, and as cracks have been spotted in the dome, experts are concerned that radioactive contaminants could enter the ocean.

But the threat could increase as sea levels rise. Climate change and the associated more violent and frequent tropical storms roalso could cause great harm.

The problem has been recognized by the UN. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, ktory earlier this month named the dome „a kind of coffin” acknowledged that the condition of the sarcophagus was deteriorating rapidly and there was a risk of leakage of materialoin radioactive.

– The dome is filled with radioactive contaminants, including plutonium-239, one of the most toxic substances known to man – said Marshall Islands representative Jack Ading. – Poison leaked from the coffin into the environment, but we were told not to worry about it – added.

An inspection conducted in 2013. commissioned by the U.S. government suggested that radioactive contamination in the sediments of the Enewetak lagoon is already so high that even a catastrophic spill would not increase the risk to local residentsow.

Since the dome was built, the state governmentoin the United States did nothing to clean up the mess it left behind, and the Marshall Islands does not have the resources to deal with the pollution.