Sunday, January 13, 2013

Runit Dome: The Radioactive Trash Can on Enewetak Atoll

Since World War II, the United States has conducted over 1,000 nuclear tests mostly at Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands, and various other locations around the United States. Over 100 of them took place place at sites in the Pacific Ocean.

Enewetak Atoll is a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean, located 305 kilometres west from Bikini Atoll, and was a major test bed for nuclear weapons, post World War II. Before Enewetak came under the control of the United States as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, it was under the Japanese control who used the atoll as refuelling stop for planes flying between Chuuk Lagoon and the islands to the east. After the capture of Enewetak, it became a major forward naval base for the U.S. Navy. Then the island was evacuated and the nuclear tests began.

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Between 1948 and 1958, Enewetak Atoll witnessed 43 such as tests including the first hydrogen bomb test in late 1952 as part of Operation Ivy, which vaporized the islet of Elugelab.

In 1977, an effort to decontaminate the islands of Enewetak began. During the three years that followed, the military mixed more than 111,000 cubic yards (85,000 m3) of contaminated soil and debris from the various islands with Portland cement and buried it in a 30-foot deep, 350-foot wide blast crater on the northern end of the atoll's Runit Island. The crater was created by an 18 kiloton test bomb nicknamed “Cactus” on May 5, 1958. A dome composed of 358 concrete panels, each 18 inches thick, was constructed over the material. The final cost of the cleanup project was $239 million.

After the completion of the dome, the United States government declared the southern and western islands in the atoll safe for habitation in 1980, and residents of Enewetak returned that same year. Today, you can visit the dome and stomp across the surface.

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13 comments:

  1. Incomplete story. Here's the rest: there are huge cracks in the dome, which have been reported by fishermen for years and tourists more recently. You can actually see them on pictures accompanying Google Earth. No plans to fix it thus far... Furthermore, the inhabitants were not "evacuated" but forcefully removed to other islands in the atoll that are so close that cancer rates have skyrocketed! Naturally, the U.S. Govt. has been denying responsability for decades... U.S. soldiers (navy) & scientists that were present stepped on the island right after the bombs and their medical claims are finally being honored, now that most of them are dead and the cost will be low! My in-law is one of them...

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  2. God bless America!

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  3. Sound's like you aren't American, maybe you should move to a third world, grow your own food, shovel your own body waste and make your own electric to give you the ability to power the internet you just posted on with that freedom of speech you are blessed with.

    Ungrateful, mistakes are made; if you want to give up your American Citizenship no one would miss you. Disgracing your nation is disgusting, you rather let invaders keep attacking. It was a show of force a bitter means to an end of attacking colonist namely japan and a show of might other nations at the time which were all in the race to develop this technology.

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    1. Are you proud of your county's reckless, dangerous, racist past? I wouldn't be. Your nation has disgraced itself enough. Now you're disgracing yourself and your family by supporting this garbage.

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    2. I hope this man does not represent the views of the American people. I would feel shame if my country were responsible for this abomination.

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    3. There's no way around it. The entire nuclear program was a bad idea. Millions of people have suffered as a direct result. But it made the Japanese surrender so it's all worth it right? Wrong.
      I am ashamed to be American when I see things like this

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  4. Yes. No Americans were harmed, and no Americans were forcibly moved so who cares? Only one country is allowed to colonize and invade others and that is the USA!!! These brown people had to get out of our way! We saved them from other countries that wanted to colonise and invade by colonising and invading their island. Then they complain that their land is radioactive - ungrateful swine.

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  5. Well done U.S.A.! Another ugly chapter in your history covered up by a disgusting, broken, useless concrete dome. Do the world a favor and go back to testing nuclear weapons on American soil. Thin out your ranks of overweight, racist, ignorant, useless sacks of skin.

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  6. You people are idiots.

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  7. Everyone we have a problem... A lot of these photos used to be discoverable on the old Google maps. Now they are missing. Is this a glitch or is Google bowing to the requests of the government?

    You can still see them on the old Google maps here, but I believe the vast majority of people use the new google maps now. http://goo.gl/maps/vXzVp

    I think we need all need to write feedback to google and post publicly about this to make sure they don't feel like its ok to hide this kind of information!

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  8. The really sad part is those of us that did the cleanup and now have cancer can not get our claims approved by the V.A.

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  9. I was there place is not safe they should sent that idiot over there he would change his mind in about two seconds

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  10. Time to start writing congress and get serious nobody knows about runit time for a little 60 minute interview.what do you think❓

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