The Dome: The Pacific paradise of Enewtak Atoll harbours a devastating secret – the toxic legacy of nuclear testing. Following a careless cleanup operation the Dome on Runit island continues to poison the life surrounding it.
Mark Willacy reports for ABC Foreign Correspondent
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Between 1946-1958, the US military tested 43 nuclear bombs in the Pacific. Known as “The Tomb” by the local Enewetak community, a 46cm thick concrete dome seals 80,000 cubic metres of waste within a crater on the deserted Runit Island. The porous coral islands cannot contain this poisonous waste. “If it kills our reef, it kills our fish, kills our food…so there’s really nothing for us.” Alson Kelen, an Enewtak leader. Jim Androll is one of 4,000 cleanup veterans suffering with health issues resulting from exposure to plutonium and other carcinogens. “I didn’t know it was radioactive. They didn’t tell us ‘til we landed… I was told I was going to visit a tropical paradise.” Unrecognised as “atomic veterans”, these soldiers fail to qualify for health insurance as the US government refuses to shoulder accountability. Kathy Jetnil-Kijner is a Marshallese activist, fighting for justice and recognition from the global community. “We’re disposable, our lives don’t matter, the war matters, nuclear bombs matter”.
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