US Never Bothered to Secure Its Pacific Nuclear Waste Coffin from Leaks

'A total lie’: US never bothered to secure its Pacific nuclear waste ‘coffin’ from leaks

Published time: 17 May, 2019
Edited time: 17 May, 2019

The US has failed to prevent the Runit Dome temporary nuclear waste storage site from leaking into the ocean, leaving the inhabitants of Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands and cleanup workers with an array of health problems.

“There was never any lining put in that dome,” Ernest Davis, an Enewetak Atoll cleanup veteran, told RT, noting that the US government apparently had never planned to replace the temporary dome with a permanent containment structure that would be properly sealed from radiation leaks. “Nobody said anything about going back in and removing it or making it permanent. We were told that it was permanent.”

“I don't think it was ever [the US government’s] intention to further clean up the island. It was too costly,” Brooke Takala Abraham, who lives in the Marshall Islands, told RT.

Cold War ‘nuclear coffin’ leaking radioactive waste from US tests into Pacific Ocean – UN chief
The United States detonated 43 atomic bombs around the Marshall Islands in the 1940s and 50s. The highly contaminated debris left over from the weapons tests was then dumped into a 100-meter-wide bomb crater on Enewetak Atoll. US servicemen sealed it up with a concrete cap to create a structure called the Runit Dome. The work, however, was allegedly carried out without any proper safety consideration for the cleanup crew.

“Those people who were involved in the cleanup... did not receive proper protection from radioactive elements,” Abraham said.

Furthermore, the government has never even bothered to study the long-term health issues of those exposed to radiation waste.

“There was no radiation study with us. Certain ones would leave the island and they will have them fill a big jug with urine and I guess they were supposed to test it,” recalled Davis, who left just before the project was completed. “Some of the dosimeters that were given to us, the rad-badges – they just did not work. So we can’t say that any radiation study was done whatsoever.”

After a three-year decontamination process which began in 1977, the US government declared the southern and western islands in the atoll safe enough, allowing residents of Enewetak to return and the cleanup crew to go home. However, people who now live on the island say the dome began leaking almost immediately after the engineers left.

“The waste has always been leaking from the get-go. The cleanup of the entire atoll was not complete” before the native people were allowed to return, Abraham told RT.

That is just a portion of the radiation that exists on the atoll. A large amount was dumped straight into the ocean. It was dumped into a lagoon. And it was dumped in open pits on other islands.

Over the years, Enewetak’s population began feeling the deleterious effects of the radiation. “The radiation affects us on a daily basis. We have many illnesses in our community from cancers to weakened immune systems, and other noncommunicable diseases as well,” Abraham explained. “And they’re still struggling as well with the transgenerational effects of radiation.”

“Most of us have come up with some type of illness, whether it’s cancer... many of us have peripheral neuropathy on our feet without being diabetic,” Davis recalled, noting that many of the roughly 8,000 people involved in the decontamination process have since died. “They told us we would not be exposed to any more radiation than having maybe two or three x-rays a year, which was a total lie.”


  • Where are Reaper and those brown motherf_ckers kissing U.S. as$hole? Why aren't they commenting here?
  • Did Trump agreed to testing or putting nuclear waste there???? No he did not. The Democrat Harry Truman and some yo libtard granpaps did in 1948. Beloved Obama Bin Lyin' didn't do shit about it either. At least Trump is meeting our Micronesian presidents next week. Remember MAGA is not necessarily Make Micronesia Great Again. That's your libtard presidents' job.
  • edited May 18
    The Dome wasn't meant as a permanent solution it was meant as a stop gap. The US had plans to re-do the dome and to do a complete design to replace the runit dome but when the TTPI broke apart the plans were shelved.

    Hilda the current president of the RMI is working hard with the US to get the Americans to re-do the runit dome.
  • the notion of " re-do" dose not sounds good enough, better take away and bury it where its came from.
    once and for all good of man kinds.
  • I hope that RT (Russia Today) also reports on the largest nuclear disaster in history - Chernobyl in 1986 - in which five million people were exposed to radiation in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, causing the deaths of an estimated 500,000 people, and continuing to expose people to dangerous radiation today.

    Still Cleaning Up: 33 Years After the Chernobyl Disaster

    On April 26, 1986, technicians conducting a test inadvertently caused reactor number four to explode. Several hundred staff and firefighters then tackled a blaze that burned for 10 days and sent a plume of radiation around the world in the worst-ever civil nuclear disaster.

    More than 50 reactor and emergency workers were killed at the time. Authorities evacuated 120,000 people from the area, including 43,000 from the city of Pripyat. Reuters reports that a huge recently-completed enclosure called the New Safe Confinement—the world's largest land-based moving structure—will be “pulled slowly over the site later this year to create a steel-clad casement to block radiation and allow the remains of the reactor to be dismantled safely.
    A view of the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on March 28, 2016.
  • FM,

    Thanks for the info on the Chernobyl disaster, which was clearly a nuclear accident NOT a nuclear testing - A Fact.

    The difference is that the Chernobyl disaster is a nuclear disaster in their own Russian backyard.

    The 60 plus US atomic & nuclear testing, on the other hand, was not an accident but 100% intentional & in our own ( Micronesian) backyard. A Fact.

    While the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster was spread by wind, the radiation from the US Nuclear testings was spread by wind and sea.

    I often wonder why many US states including Guam complained about the high medical costs incurred by Micronesians. Could it be related to the radiation?

    Please, let's not waste our time supporting or defending the damn so called Superpowers, US & Russia.

    I'm merely reporting the disturbing nuclear radioactive issue in our backyard as revealed by the United Nations.

    Perhaps when our 3 Micronesian leaders meet
    Trump next week, they can bring it up to Trump's attention. Wishful thinking maybe?
  • Thanks AntiColonialist and Reaper for your comments. I think if the radioactive materials--whether in liquid or other forms--do leak to the surrounding water, it will lead to not only environmental and health disaster but also economic disaster. Imagine if the spreads to the migration routes of the tuna and other big fishes that are demanded all over the world.

    Once a tuna meat is detected to contain radiation, it will lead to people to stop buying tuna--whether for sashimi market or for canning--from this side of the world. That tuna migration route goes from the South Pacific region thru the Micronesian region and go as far as Yap and Palau and further to other Asian countries fishing grounds.

    Radioactive-laced tuna meat will not be hard to detect given that Geiger radioactive monitoring/testing devises are now portable and probably will be required to be carried by all the fishing ships and mother ships and canneries, etc.

    As such, let's hope that the Micronesian Presidents will be able to convince President Trump of US's promises from previous administrations to take care of this matter; so that actions are taken to prevent the disaster from happening. Scary!
  • edited May 19
    The Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan has leaked and continue to leak millions upon millions of tons of radioactive waters into the Pacific.

    Seven years on, radioactive water at Fukushima plant still flowing into ocean, study finds
    More than seven years after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, radioactive water is continuing to flow into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled No. 1 plant at a rate of around 2 billion becquerels a day, a study has found.

    The amount of leaking cesium 137 has decreased from some 30 billion becquerels in 2013, Michio Aoyama, a professor at the Institute of Environmental Radioactivity at Fukushima University, said in his study, which was presented Wednesday at an academic conference in Osaka.

    The study said the concentration of radiation — 0.02 becquerel per liter of seawater found in samples collected near a coastal town 8 km south of the No. 1 plant — is at a level that does not affect the local fishing industry.

    The radioactive water is generated in a process to cool melted nuclear fuel at three damaged reactors at the complex. The reactors experienced core meltdowns after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    “It can be assumed that there is a path from the complex to the ocean” through which contaminated water flows, Aoyama said.

    The water accumulates in the basements of the buildings at the site after being used to cool the melted fuel.

    Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima complex, has been trying to prevent contaminated water from increasing within the facilities by building an underground ice wall in an effort to block ground water. It has also built a seawall aimed at preventing contaminated water from entering the ocean
  • France also did testings in the Pacific ocean and from those tests the Pacific ocean was also contaminated. Lets not kid ourselves and lay the blame at the US. Japan and every other countries who have civilian nuclear plants have also and are also contaminating the world. Every countries that conducted nuclear testings also have contaminated the world. Lets not lie ourselves and lay the entire blame on the US.

    French nuclear tests ‘showered vast area of Polynesia with radioactivity’
    Declassified papers show extent of plutonium fall-out from South Pacific tests of 60s and 70s was kept hidden, says French paper.
    French nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1960s and 1970s were far more toxic than has been previously acknowledged and hit a vast swath of Polynesia with radioactive fallout, according to newly declassified ministry of defence documents which have angered veterans and civilians' groups.

    The papers, seen by the French paper Le Parisien, reportedly reveal that plutonium fallout hit the whole of French Polynesia, a much broader area than France had previously admitted. Tahiti, above, the most populated island, was exposed to 500 times the maximum accepted levels of radiation. The impact spread as far as the tourist island, Bora Bora.
  • So if radioactive materials in RMI is spread throughout the tuna fishing route--a good part of it is RMI--we can say good bye to the millions and possibly billions of dollars that come from the tuna industry. All the efforts in the region to establish a system by PNA and other regional players--to conserve tuna, to reduce tuna catch, to get maximum dollar benefit from the tuna--all of these will come to a halt.

    If that were to happen, then, all the efforts on the part of the Freely Associated States nations, working with other partners, to develop this vital tuna industry will mean we will go back to square one--depend on the US for survival.

    We don't want that. We want to be economically as well as politically independent from the US--but in close alliance with the US for the sake of world peace in our part of the world.

    Let's hope that the Trump administration will be able to put a permanent solution to this radioactive "coffin" once and for all. Our future and the role of the US in this side of the world are at stake. Just my thoughts on this calm day in Kolonia.
  • An interesting piece regarding the US tests in Nevada, which paled in comparison to the tests in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia.

    Radioactive materials from the Castle Bravo test, the most powerful US nuclear bomb, in 1954 in the Marshalls were later found in countries as far as the US Mainland west coast, Australia, Japan, India & Europe.

    Poor FSM is right next door.

    If the US can recklessly killed its own people, we can say for sure that the US did the same thing in the Marshall Islands or Micronesia.

    The question is how many Micronesian deaths are attributed to the 60 plus tests.
    How many more will die from the leaking coffin?


    US Nuclear Tests Killed Far More Civilians Than We Knew

    By Tim Fernholz
    December 21, 2017

    When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden cost of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for 340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973.

    The study, performed by University of Arizona economist Keith Meyers, uses a novel method (pdf) to trace the deadly effects of this radiation, which was often consumed by Americans drinking milk far from the site of atomic tests.

    From 1951 to 1963, the US tested nuclear weapons above ground in Nevada. Weapons researchers, not understanding the risks—or simply ignoring them—exposed thousands of workers to radioactive fallout. The emissions from nuclear reactions are deadly to humans in high doses, and can cause cancer even in low doses. At one point, researchers had volunteers stand underneath an airburst nuclear weapon to prove how safe it was:

    The emissions, however, did not just stay at the test site, and drifted in the atmosphere. Cancer rates spiked in nearby communities, and the US government could no longer pretend that fallout was anything but a silent killer.

    The cost in dollars and lives

    Congress eventually paid more than $2 billion to residents of nearby areas that were particularly exposed to radiation, as well as uranium miners. But attempts to measure the full extent of the test fallout were very uncertain, since they relied on extrapolating effects from the hardest-hit communities to the national level. One national estimate found the testing caused 49,000 cancer deaths.

    Those measurements, however, did not capture the full range of effects over time and geography. Meyers created a broader picture by way of a macabre insight: When cows consumed radioactive fallout spread by atmospheric winds, their milk became a key channel to transmit radiation sickness to humans. Most milk production during this time was local, with cows eating at pasture and their milk being delivered to nearby communities, giving Meyers a way to trace radioactivity across the country.

    The National Cancer Institute has records of the amount of Iodine 131—a dangerous isotope released in the Nevada tests—in milk, as well as broader data about radiation exposure. By comparing this data with county-level mortality records, Meyers came across a significant finding: “Exposure to fallout through milk leads to immediate and sustained increases in the crude death rate.” What’s more, these results were sustained over time. US nuclear testing likely killed seven to 14 times more people than we had thought, mostly in the midwest and northeast.

    A weapon against its own people

    When the US used nuclear weapons during World War II, bombing the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, conservative estimates suggest 250,000 people died in immediate aftermath. Even those horrified by the bombing didn’t realize that the US would deploy similar weapons against its own people, accidentally, and on a comparable scale.

    And the cessation of nuclear testing helped save US lives—”the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty might have saved between 11.7 and 24.0 million American lives,” Meyers estimates. There was also some blind luck involved in reducing the number of poisoned people: The Nevada Test Site, compared to other potential testing facilities the US government considered at the time, produced the lowest atmospheric dispersal.

    The lingering effects of these tests remain, as silent and as troublesome as the isotopes themselves. Millions of Americans who were exposed to fallout likely suffer illnesses related to these tests even today, as they retire and rely on the US government to fund their health care.

    “This paper reveals that there are more casualties of the Cold War than previously thought, but the extent to which society still bears the costs of the Cold War remains an open question.
  • I think in the long run, it will be less costly to the US to undertake project now rather than later--to upgrade; to completely make this nuclear "coffin" safe.

    If not, with the resulting loss of tuna industry, it means the COFA nations will lose their main industry in the future. While Palau is able to get some good revenue from its tourism industry, FSM and RMI depend heavily on the tuna fishing industry.

    Without a robust tuna industry, as it is now, we will expect a huge out migration of people from the FSM and RMI to Guam, Hawaii and the US mainland. And when they do that, don't blame them.
  • @ marc. for your opinion about the tuna in Rmi is a cheap shot , first I think the tuna do migrate all around the big blue pacific. infact the most healthiest stock on the planet, according the the scintist..
  • visafree, I am sorry if you see my comments as cheap shot. I am serious. RMI is hosting the main office of PNA (I think that's the name). This regional office has developed and implemented recommendations on how to make the tuna more valuable to the Pacific countries--from number of days fishing, for trading fishing days, to looking into ways to sustain stocks.

    There are a lot of fishing boats and motherships in Majuro lagoon--waiting to take fish to other destinations for cannery or other processing centers. It shows how the RMI economy is dependent on the tuna industry.

    Majuro is focusing on fishing industry because it does not have arable land for agriculture or other industries. And besides, Marshallese are the ones that will be affected the most by any radioactive leak from the "coffin".

    As for tuna fishing ground, yes, tuna migrate from other South Pacific countries thru Marshall Islands and thru the FSM's waters and then to Yap and Palau and probably other locations such as New Guinea. If the tuna goes thru the RMI's radioactive-contaminated water, needless to say, such tuna, once ingested radioactive water into their system, will not be safe for human consumption or other purposes.

    I don't see how it's a cheap shot. I am just describing a possible scary scenario for the region, especially for RMI and the FSM. This scary scenario could be avoided if the "coffin" dome is secured so the radioactive materials don't leak to the surrounding ocean.
  • tuna migrate as well as the current, this dome adds up to the contamination and the real solution is to dig everything up and transport to acceptable burier site.. and not on this small ilsnad where exposed to gurantee leakage..
  • The current in the pacific runs counter clockwise. At 12 o clock we have Bikini runit dome, at 9 o clock we have the Fukushima radiation leaks that still keeps leaking into the Pacific ocean and at 6 o clock we have the radiations from Tahiti nuclear testings.

    Round and round the currents go from one end of the Pacific to the other. Its safe to say the entire Pacific tuna fish is effected.
  • Yes, the best way to address this problem, once and for all, is to scoop it up; and transport it to the US' storage underground salt dome or other stable caverns--where the US is currently storing radioactive materials from the nuclear tests in Nevada or other places.

    Concrete "coffin" will eventually crack as reported from that radioactive waste storage in Japan.

    Eventually, over the years, perhaps thousands of years, the natural life of the radioactive isotopes will render the materials no longer radioactive; they become inert or not dangerous anymore. But that will be years and years away.
  • edited May 21
    storing it in caves is also not safe. It will also leaks into underground water sorces. The best way is to replace the concrete dome with lead in and out. Transporting it and removing it is more dangerous.
  • I agree that transporting nuclear waste materials across the Pacific to the US mainland itself is problematic. Strong storms or other open ocean accidents could lead to the ship to break apart and spill the radioactive materials all over the Pacific Ocean. I am sure many countries in the Pacific region will not allow such a ship containing radioactive materials to go thru the oceans in or near their jurisdiction. The environment and anti-nuclear groups will protest the shipment.

    I heard that the caverns and other storage sites are more safe but yes, there is still the danger of leaking to the underground environment including water sources, etc. So it is a dilemma.

    Reaper, if replacing the concrete dome with "lead" is a proven technology, then, it sounds like the right thing to do. And the sooner is better than later.
  • Paul, thanks for sharing the link. Very powerful and emotional message. President Heine's moment to bring this story to the attention of the world's most powerful leader has come. I hope she'll be given the opportunity to express the concerns of her people to President Trump.
  • This is a problem that interests us all regardless of political viewsimage
  • if USA is capable of landing a ship on the moon, what makes to think it cant transport back its nuclear waste for proper storage ?.lets not try to undermine the their capability under any weather or condition US DOD can do it!
  • One thing the USA can do, dig the whole crate and take back to US and fill the void with US soil . that would be a fair deal. don't you all think so?

  • It's not a question of how easy the US could transport it back to the mainland. But rather a question of releasing more of the radiation to the ocean. Opening the dome would also expose the radio active matarials into the ocean. Lead is used to contain radio active wave and gamma radiation because of it's density. That's what they use to shield the crews of nuclear powered submarines and nuclear powered aircraft carriers. Replacing the dome in and out and the pit with lead would contain radioactive leakage.
  • The dome should be declared a Superfund site. Yes, it's expensive, but cleanup must be done according to modern EPA standards.
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