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The continuing tragedy and nuclear abomination of U.S. tests on the Marshall Islands

The lingering legacy of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands,  https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/the-lingering-legacy-of-us-nuclear-testing-in-the-marshall-islands/NTHZG3PJNS6NXV4SZLPTHCANNY/13 Dec, 2020,  By RNZ.

The US detonated its largest nuclear bombs around the Marshall Islands in the 1940s and 50s – but the Marshallese are still campaigning for adequate compensation.

The Marshall Islands are two chains of 29 coral atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii.

Following the tests, whole islands ceased to exist, hundreds of native Marshallese had to be relocated off their home islands and many were affected by fallout from the testing.

In 1977, US authorities put the most contaminated debris and soil into a huge concrete dome called the Runit Dome, which sits on Enewetak Atoll and houses 88,000 square metres of contaminated soil and debris.It has recently received media attention as it appears to be leaking, due to cracking and the threat from rising sea levels, while some Marshallese have fears it may eventually collapse.

However, American officials have said it’s not their problem and responsbility falls on the Marshallese, as it is their land.

The US has cited a 1986 compact of free association, which released the US goverment from further liability, which will go up for renegotiation in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Marshallese continue to campaign for adequate compensation from the US.

Giff Johnson, editor of the country’s only newspaper the Marshall Islands Journal and RNZ correspondent, has experienced the unfolding legacy of US nuclear testing first hand. His wife Darlene Keju, an outspoken advocate for test victims and nuclear survivors, herself died of cancer in 1996.

While he said that suggestions that the Rumit Dome – nicknamed “The Tomb” by locals – was about to collapse were alarmist, there were still major concerns surrouding it.

“I wouldn’t say the dome is on the verge of collapse, there’s concern about its leaking, about cracks, and also about the overall contamination of that atoll,” he said.

“The issue is it’s got plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,000 years, and how long does concrete last?”

Describing the structure as a “symbol of the nuclear legacy here”, Johnson said that US government scientists had reported there was already so much contamination in the area that it would be difficult to find what leakage from the dome had added.

The United States has continued to refuse to accept responsibility for the Runit Dome’s condition, despite its history of nuclear testing in the country.

In 1954, the US carried out their first nuclear weapon test, Castle Bravo, at Bikini Atoll in 1954 – which resulted in the contamination of 15 islands and atolls. Only three years later, residents on the affected atolls of Rongelap and Utirik were encouraged to return to their homes, so researchers could study the effects of radiation.

“The nuclear weapons test legacy is the overriding issue in the Marshall Islands with the United States and it remains a festering problem, because US compensation and medical care and so forth was only partial for what was needed,” Johnson said.

The first compact to free association between the Marshall Islands and the US contained a compensation agreement, including the establishment of a nuclear claims tribunal to adjudicate all claims. While it determined there was a large amount of compensation due to Marshallese on various atolls, this has never been paid out, apart from funding of $150 million in 1986.

Since then, the US has accepted no more liability on nuclear compensation, as the compact resulted in the Marshall Islands being an independent country, able to join the United Nations.

However, Johnson said the United States Congress had taken a different position on this.

“For example, while the US executive branch would say, well the Marshall Islands is in charge of all the former nuclear test sites, the US Congress a few years back passed legislation requiring the US Department of Energy to monitor the Runit Dome, where so much radioactive waste is stored.”

There have also been big differences in the treatment of Marshallese nuclear victims and those in the United States

“The US used Bikini and Enewetak to test its biggest hydrogen bombs,” Johnson said. “While it maintained a nuclear test site in Nevada, it only tested relatively small nuclear devices there, because it simply could not test hydrogen bombs in the continental United States – Americans wouldn’t have stood for it.”

Not long after the 1986 free association compact ended American responsibility for nuclear compensation in the Marshall Islands, the US Congress enacted a radiation compensation act for Americans – which Johnson said really emphasised the unfairness of the situation.

“Long story short, they appropriated $100 million and then they ran out, the US congress appropriated more, again ran out, appropriated more and fast-forward to 2020 and they’re over $2 billion in compensation awarded to American nuclear victims.

“Then the question comes, that if they’re willing to just keep recapitalising the compensation fund for American nuclear victims, why aren’t they able to reinstitute the compensation fund for Marshallese, who were exposed to far more nuclear fallout than the downwinders in Utah and Nevada?”

Johnson also had concerns about the lack of a baseline epidemiological study by the US, following the tests. Studies on the affects of radiation centred around thyroid issues, but many islanders have reported cancer, miscarriages and stillbirths in the years following.

His wife Darlene Keju died of breast cancer, which also affected her mother and father – she grew up on one of the islands in the downwind zone of the tests.

The US had never looked at rates of cancer, or studied the differences between low fallout and high fallout areas, he said.

Johnson hoped the nuclear legacy between the countries could be worked out amicably, but he wasn’t too optimistic.

“The original compensation agreement was negotiated in a period of the Cold War and the US did it in an adversarial way with the Marshall Islands, which had no standing because it wasn’t a country at the time, information was withheld, they didn’t know what they know today, and it needs to be worked out, a suitable decent fair agreement needs to be sorted out.”

Despite this tension, Johnson said the Marshallese did not harbour anti-American sentiment and the compensation issues were a “black mark on an otherwise good relationship” between the two countries.

He said around 30 to 40 percent of all Marshallese were living in the US.

“The Marshall Islands, since WWII, has a very long standing high regard and strong relationship with the US that came out of the end of the Japanese period of militarism and the execution of many islanders and privation, into a period where the US fostered democratic institutions, created opportunities for education, providing scholarships, opening the door to people going to the US and the unpacked treaty really put this together, in terms of the relationship that’s of benefit to both sides.”

However, ongoing tensions between the US and China may help the Marshall Islands in their push for further compensation.

“In the current situation where we have the US continuing to be in an uproar over China … that has elevated the strategic importance of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau – the three north Pacific countries that are all in free association with the US. It does give the Marshall Islands a bit more leverage in negotiating and talking with Washington.

“Possibly the changing geopolitical situation out here might offer an opening to get some interest to try to amicably do something to resolve the whole thing,” Johnson said.

But the nuclear legacy is not the only issue affecting the island – climate change is looming large and reports by US scientists have said that the Marshall Islands could be uninhabitable by the 2030s, due to rising sea levels.

“Because the Marshall Islands has such little land, these are really small islands, it magnifies the importance of land to Marshallese people,” Johnson said. “I think people care about their islands and want to find a way to make them liveable for the long term, but that may depend on the world community to a great extent now.”

December 14, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – simply unaffordable for the Philippines

November 7, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Philippines, politics | Leave a comment

Now climate change, rising seas, swamping Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, victims of nuclear racism

Losing paradise,  Atomic racism decimated Kiribati and the Marshall Islands; now climate change is sinking them, Beyond Nuclear   https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/29981415891 Nov 20, This is an extract from the Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland report “Nuclear Weapons, the Climate and Our Environment”.

Kiribati.  In 1954, the government of Winston Churchill decided that the UK needed to develop a hydrogen bomb (a more sophisticated and destructive type of nuclear weapon). The US and Russia had already developed an H-bomb and Churchill argued that the UK “could not expect to maintain our influence as a world power unless we possessed the most up-to-date nuclear weapons”.

The governments of Australia and New Zealand refused to allow a hydrogen bomb test to be conducted on their territories so the British government searched for an alternative site. Kiritimati Island and Malden Island in the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in the central Pacific Ocean (now the Republic of Kiribati) were chosen. Nine nuclear weapons tests – including the first hydrogen bomb tests – were carried out there as part of “Operation Grapple” between 1957 and 1958.

Military personnel from the UK, New Zealand and Fiji (then a British colony) and Gilbertese labourers were brought in to work on the operation. Many of the service personnel were ordered to witness the tests in the open, on beaches or on the decks of ships, and were simply told to turn their backs and shut their eyes when the bombs were detonated. There is evidence that Fijian forces were given more dangerous tasks than their British counterparts, putting them at greater risk from radiation exposure. The local Gilbertese were relocated and evacuated to British naval vessels during some of the tests but many were exposed to fallout, along with naval personnel and soldiers.

After Grapple X, the UK’s first megaton hydrogen bomb test in November 1957, dead fish washed ashore and “birds were observed to have their feathers burnt off, to the extent that they could not fly”. The larger Grapple Y test in 1958 spread fallout over Kiritimati Island and destroyed large areas of vegetation.

Despite evidence that military personnel and local people suffered serious health problems as a result of the tests, including blindness, cancers, leukaemia and reproductive difficulties, the British government has consistently denied that they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and has resisted claims for compensation.

Like the Marshall Islands, the low-lying Republic of Kiribati is now bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. Salt water washed in on king tides has contaminated the islands’ scarce freshwater resources. Pits that are used to grow taro plants have been ruined and the healthy subsistence lifestyle of local people is under threat.

It is predicted that rising sea levels will further impact freshwater resources and reduce the amount of agricultural land, while storm damage and erosion will increase. Much of the land will ultimately be submerged. In anticipation of the need to relocate its entire population, the government of Kiribati bought 20km2 of land on Fiji in 2014.

The UK is set to spend £3.4 billion a year on Trident nuclear weapons system between 2019 and 2070. If Trident were scrapped, a portion of the savings could be provide to the Republic of Kiribati in the form of climate finance (see section 1.2.1). Scrapping Trident would also allow money and skills to be redirected towards measures aimed at drastically cutting the UK’s carbon emissions (see section 1.2.2) – action that Pacific island nations are urgently demanding.

The Marshall Islands.  The most devasting incident of radioactive contamination took place 8,000 km from the US mainland during the Castle Bravo test in 1954. The US detonated the largest nuclear weapon in its history at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, causing fallout to spread over an area of more than 11,000km. Residents of nearby atolls, Rongelap and Utirik, were exposed to high levels of radiation, suffering burns, radiation sickness, skin lesions and hair loss as a result.

Castle Bravo was just one of 67 nuclear weapons tests conducted by the US in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958. Forty years after the tests, the cervical cancer mortality rate for women of the Marshall Islands was found to be 60 times greater than the rate for women in the US mainland, while breast and lung cancer rates were five and three times greater respectively. High rates of infant mortality have also been found in the Marshall Islands and a legacy of birth defects and infertility has been documented. Many Marshallese were relocated by the US to make way for the testing.

Some were moved to Rongelap Atoll and relocated yet again after the fallout from Castle Bravo left the area uninhabitable.

Rongelap Atoll was resettled in 1957 after the US government declared that the area was safe. However, many of those who returned developed serious health conditions and the entire population was evacuated by Greenpeace in 1984. An attempt to resettle Bikini Atoll was similarly abandoned in 1978 after it became clear that the area was still unsafe for human habitation.

A 2019 peer-reviewed study found levels of the radioactive isotope caesium-137 in fruits taken from some parts of Bikini and Rongelap to be significantly higher than levels recorded at the sites of the world’s worst nuclear accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Compounding the injustice of nuclear weapons testing, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is now on the frontline of the climate emergency. The government declared a national climate crisis in 2019, citing the nation’s extreme vulnerability to rising sea levels and the “implications for the security, human rights and wellbeing of the Marshallese people”.

At Runit Island, one of 40 islands in the Enewetak Atoll, rising sea levels are threatening to release radioactive materials into an already contaminated lagoon. In the late 1970s, the US army dumped 90,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste, including plutonium, into a nuclear blast crater and covered it with a concrete cap. Radioactive materials are leaking out of the crater and cracks have appeared on the concrete cap. Encroaching salt water caused by rising sea levels could collapse the structure altogether. The Marshallese government has asked the US for help to prevent an environmental catastrophe but the US maintains that the dome is the Marshall Islands’ responsibility. Hilda Heine, then President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said of the dome in 2019: “We don’t want it. We didn’t build it. The garbage inside is not ours. It’s theirs.”

The Runit Island dome offers a stark illustration of the ways in which the injustices of nuclear weapons testing and climate change overlap. Marshall Islanders were left with the toxic legacy of nuclear weapons testing conducted on their territory by another state. The country is now being forced to deal with the effects of a climate crisis that they did not create, including the erosion of the Runit dome.

The nations that contributed most to the crisis are failing to cut their emissions quickly enough to limit further global heating, leaving the Marshallese at the mercy of droughts, cyclones and rising seas. A recent study found that if current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, the Marshall Islands will be flooded with sea water annually from 2050. The resulting damage to infrastructure and contamination of freshwater supplies will render the islands uninhabitable.

If the US scrapped its nuclear weapons programme, it could give a portion of the billions of dollars that would be saved to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to help the country mitigate and adapt to climate disruption (see section 1.2.1 on international climate finance). The US could also use the freed-up funds to invest in its own Just Transition away from a fossil-fuel powered economy.   Read the full report.

November 2, 2020 Posted by | climate change, environment, history, OCEANIA, Reference, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A bit of good news – Chameleon last seen a century ago rediscovered in Madagascar

October 31, 2020 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Pacific islands demand truth on the decades of nuclear testing, now that nuclear weapons are becoming illegal

Guardian 25th Oct 2020, Now that nuclear weapons are illegal, the Pacific demands truth on decades of testing. Nuclear weapons will soon be illegal. Just over 75 years since their devastation was first unleashed on the world, the global community has rallied to bring into force a ban through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Late on Saturday night in New York, the 50th country – the central American nation of Honduras – ratified the treaty. It will become international law in 90 days. For many across the Pacific region, this is a momentous achievement and one that has been long called
for. Over the second half of the 20th century 315 nuclear weapons tests were conducted by so-called “friendly” or colonising forces in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Australia and Maohi Nui (French Polynesia).

The United States, Britain and France used largely colonised lands to testtheir nuclear weapons, leaving behind not only harmful physical legacies but psychological and political scars as well. Survivors of these tests and their descendants have continued to raise their voices against these weapons. They are vocal resisters and educators, the reluctant but intense knowledge holders of the nuclear reality of our region.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/25/now-that-nuclear-weapons-are-the-pacific-demands-truth-on-decades-of-testing

October 26, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tuvalu – the 47th nation to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

October 15, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pacific Island Nations determined to say NO to nuclear weapons, and support UN Treaty Ban

October 6, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cost and safety dangers should rule out nuclear power for the Philippines

Going nuclear, (The Philippine Star ) – October 3, 2020 As if the country didn’t have enough disasters, certain quarters still haven’t given up on harnessing nuclear power for electricity. The idea is to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, built during the Marcos dictatorship. The BNPP was mothballed after the 1986 people power revolt because of a corruption scandal and safety concerns arising from the fact that it sits on an earthquake fault connected to the dormant Mount Natib volcano in Bataan.

A report this year placed the cost of reviving the BNPP, as estimated by a foreign group, at $3 billion to $4 billion. Reviving it will go against a trend in other countries to reduce nuclear power in their energy mix, because of safety concerns in the power plants as well as the risks posed by nuclear waste, which remains radioactive and cannot be destroyed or recycled……..

Like Japan, the Philippines sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Before the start of this year’s pandemic, Taal Volcano’s powerful phreatic explosion emptied surrounding communities, displaced thousands and blanketed towns and cities all the way to Metro Manila with toxic, suffocating ash. Earthquakes and aftershocks continue to be recorded in Taal, with seismologists warning of the possibility of a cataclysmic eruption.

If the BNPP is revived, at great cost to a cash-strapped government, what happens if Mount Natib also acts up, or if an earthquake hits Bataan? If all the proponents of nuclear energy will live together with their immediate families near the BNPP – and not just for show, buying a house nearby while the kids live in an exclusive village far from harm’s way – then by all means, go ahead with the project. https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2020/10/03/2046802/editorial-going-nuclear

October 3, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Philippines, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands in danger of being overcome by rising sea levels

Star of the day: David Kabua, President of the Marshall Islands, believes his territory will disappear under rising sea levels,       https://pledgetimes.com/star-of-the-day-david-kabua-president-of-the-marshall-islands-believes-his-territory-will-disappear-under-rising-sea-levels/ by Bhavi Mandalia, September 22, 2020   The Marshall Islands facing rising waters. (HILARY HOSIA / AFP)

David Kabua, 71, president for nine months of the Marschall Islands is worried. This small confetti of land lost in the Pacific Ocean, 180 km², perched just two meters from sea level, is threatened by rising waters. There is not much on the 30 atolls that make up the archipelago, nothing to covet, nothing to export, no natural resources, only small farms, fishing boats and a huge radioactive waste storage site. , memory of the American nuclear tests of the 1960s.

This little piece of land, so coveted during the wars for its strategic location, no longer has any leverage to attract attention. And yet, it will soon no longer appear on the world maps. This is the warning cry launched by David Kabua on Monday September 21 at the UN, a simple cry: “My country will disappear if the world does not keep its promises, those made during the Paris agreement.” He recounted the impact of climate change, the increasingly devastating tides, population evacuations, the intense droughts which generate another plague: swarms of mosquitoes carrying various diseases. And then there is the money that is lacking to build the necessary infrastructure to protect its 75,000 inhabitants. Money promised five years ago, and which does not arrive. Finally, there is worse:“The fact, he said, that industrialized countries continue to finance fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal. We are doing our part, but alone we can do nothing. “

David Kabua addresses the United Nations. The UN that the Marschall Islands joined in 1991 but that they could well leave, in fact, not voluntarily, but by force of circumstances, because the atolls will end up submerged. So he concluded by asking: “Will we still be here for the UN’s 100th anniversary in 2045? How about you? Are you going to help us keep our islands in this world?” In the assembly, the question created a long silence. David Kabua, for his part, has nothing more to give than a warning, a prophecy for all. We know. But we look elsewhere. Hope does exist, however, it is in the motto of the Marschall Islands: “Achievement through joint effort“. And we have 25 years ahead of us.

 

September 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

Duterte asks nations to reject war, eliminate nuclear weapons

Duterte asks nations to reject war, eliminate nuclear weapons,   Darryl John Esguerra – Reporter / @DJEsguerraINQ

 INQUIRER.net  September 14, 2020   President Rodrigo Duterte made this appeal to all countries in a video shared on Twitter on Monday by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

No goals, however lofty, can justify weapons that destroy with such unforgiving brutality,” Duterte said.

The video, which also featured messages by other world leaders, was originally posted on YouTube by the City of Hiroshima to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing last Aug. 6, which was followed by the bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9.

“We must not forget: Nuclear weapons will not make us freer, stronger, or more secure. We must not waver. All nations should reject war and do everything to pave the path for peace. We must be firm. All nations must work together to eliminate nuclear weapons,” Duterte said……….Other world leaders in the video were World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, Belgium Foreign Affairs and Defense Minister Philippe Goffin, and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.   https://globalnation.inquirer.net/190853/on-75th-anniv-of-hiroshima-bombing-duterte-asks-nations-to-reject-war-eliminate-nuclear-weapons

 

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Philippines, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Philippines wary of nuclear power: costs to be borne by tax-payer

August 25, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Philippines | Leave a comment

The lingering human suffering after nuclear testing in Australia and Oceania

Death in paradise: the aftermath of nuclear testing in Australia and Oceania    https://diem25.org/death-paradise-the-aftermath-nuclear-testing-australia-and-oceania/ 10/08/2020   by Aleksandar Novaković   The United States of America is the first nuclear power — and the only one to have used its weapons for a military purpose. During World War 2 in 1945,  two Japanese cities were bombed by US nuclear bombs (Hiroshima on August 6th  and Nagasaki August 9th ). The devastating result was approximately 225,000 people either dead or  wounded. The number of deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki due to exposure to lethal radiation is still being discussed, but it is certainly in the thousands.

However, even though nuclear weapons were never used again for military purposes, nuclear testing took (and continues to take) a toll on thousands of lives in Australia and Oceania. 

The United States conducted about 1,054 nuclear tests from 1945 to 1992, and 105 of them (1945-1962) were made at Pacific Test Sites (Marshall Islands, Kiribati) causing the contamination of huge areas controlled by US troops. In the Pacific, this caused rising numbers of cancer and birth defects, especially on the Marshall Islands where 67 tests were made and many Marshallese were forced to leave their homes in contaminated areas.

European nuclear powers, such as France and the UK,  have also “contributed” to the deaths of thousands.

France has made over 193 nuclear tests in the Pacific between 1960 and 1996, mostly on Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls that belong to French Polynesia, as well as 17 tests in Algerian Sahara. Tahiti, the most populated island of French Polynesia, was exposed to 500 times the maximum accepted levels of radiation. The impact has spread as far as to the tourist island of Bora Bora.

Civilians and the military participating in nuclear tests (more than 100,000 of them) have experienced diarrhea, skin injuries, blindness, and cancer. Their children have additionally suffered from birth defects. 

From 1953 to 1963, there were over 20 bigger and smaller British  A- bomb tests in Emu Farm, and the Maralinga and Montebello Islands of Australia. Overall, over 1200 peoples were exposed to radiation in the country, most of them Anangu people living in the Maralinga area. The UK has also made nuclear tests on overseas territories such as the Malden Islands and Christmas Island ( the present Republic of Kiribati).

So, what was done by the governments of the US, UK, Australia and France to help those who have suffered from radiation related illnesses, or those who lost their loved ones?

There are two answers. One is that loss of  loved ones, of the way you live your life, of the nature that surrounds you, the loss of home cannot be repaid or replaced with anything else. The other is that aforementioned governments did little.

The US has awarded more than $63 million to Marshallese with radiogenic illnesses despite the fact that the Tribunal only has $45.75 million to award for both health and land claims. France is still avoiding paying reparations to Tahitians.

As for the “joint venture” of the UK and Australia, the truth is that tests were approved and conducted in the first place because British officials were misinforming Australians. The Maralinga Tjarutja (Council) of  Anangu people has a compensation settlement with the Australian government, and they are receiving $13.5 million.

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must ask ourselves: Why are we so callous about many “Hiroshimas” and “Nagasakis” that happened over the following decades? Did we let them happen just because they took place in far-off islands in the Pacific or in the Australian desert? 

The only way to deal with these existing and future horrors that can eradicate life on Earth is to heal these existing wounds.

This means that the governments of the US, UK, France and Australia must pay just reparations to the affected countries and regions. Progressives of the world must act united against the threat of nuclear holocaust and create a political climate in which it would be possible to take action on an international level in order to ban the production, storage and use of nuclear weapons.

This can be done if nuclear powers, followed by all member states, sign the United Nation’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Aleksandar Novaković is a historian and dramatist. He is a member of DSC Belgrade 1 and the thematic DSC Peace and International Policy 1

 

August 11, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, OCEANIA, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Glaciers in New Zealand – extreme melting due to global heating

August 4, 2020 Posted by | climate change, New Zealand | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands leaders hope for better help over radioactively polluted weapons tests sites

Nuclear-affected atolls in Marshalls see promise in US talks, RNZ 31 July 2020 , Giff Johnson, Editor, Marshall Islands Journal / RNZ Pacific correspondent,  Momentum is developing behind efforts for renewed attention to lingering problems related to the US nuclear weapons testing programme in the Marshall Islands.

This week leaders of four nuclear test-affected atolls spoke of the building movement movement to issues surrounding the actions of the US from 1946 to 1958.

Elected leaders from Bikini and Enewetak, the ground zeroes for 67 nuclear weapons tests, and Rongelap and Utrok, two atolls heavily contaminated with radioactive fallout from the 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test, described separate meetings in the past few days with US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Roxanne Cabral, and Marshall Islands President, David Kabua, as “productive and positive.”

The push for action on compensation, health care and cleanups of radioactive islands comes against the backdrop of negotiations between the Marshall Islands and US governments to extend expiring grant funding in a Compact of Free Association.

Island leaders said nuclear test legacy issues had languished for years and they wanted the Marshall Islands to pursue them during the upcoming talks.

It was preferred that a solution was found that benefitted both the Marshall Islands and the United States…….

US-provided compensation fell far short of funds needed to meet compensation awards for this nuclear test-affected nation……

Utrok Mayor Tobin Kaiko said he personally, as well as other nuclear test-affected islanders, continued living with health problems caused by exposure to radioactive fallout.

He said their suffering had been exacerbated by US authorities consistently downplaying the hazards of radiation and the potential for health problems among affected islanders………. https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/422407/nuclear-affected-atolls-in-marshalls-see-promise-in-us-talks

August 1, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard refutes the claim that Marshall Islands nuclear waste site is safe

July 30, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, safety | Leave a comment