Marshallese fear radioactive waste impact following storm
There are concerns that radioactive waste has been washed over an atoll in the Marshall Islands, after it was hit by Typhoon Nangka earlier this month.
There are concerns that Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands have been washed over with radioactive waste, after it was hit by Typhoon Nangka earlier this month.
Typhoon Nangka caused significant damage to homes and infrastructure on the atoll when it hit on July 5th.
The Atoll is home to the Runit Dome which was constructed in 1979 to temporarily store radioactive waste produced from nuclear testing by the United States military during the 1950s and 1960s.
Locals have reported cracks in the dome's concrete and radioactive waste leaking from the bottom into the lagoon.
Our correspondent Giff Johnson told Indira Moala, there are concerns the typhoon may have spread more contamination across the island.
GIFF JOHNSON: With a typhoon you get big waves and you get the churning of the lagoon. Did this stir up a lot of the plutonium and the radioactive waste that is in the sediment? Because what people have told me, is what is more radioactive than what is in the dome, is what is in the lagoon sediment. But as far as I know, there has been nothing to track this. At least there has been no information provided about it if there has.
INDIRA MOALA: The dome was only meant to be a temporary repository. Does the Marshall Islands have a plan for permanent decontamination?
GJ: As far as I know the Marshall Islands government doesn't have any plans for dealing with the Runit Dome. And I don't think it would acknowledge that it has responsibility for the Runit Dome. I think both the Enewetak leadership and the Marshall Islands government, state that this responsibility is with the United States, for ongoing monitoring and action regarding the dome and nuclear waste on Enewetak in general.
IM: And you don't know if there is any kind of ongoing active monitoring by the US government?
GJ: Eighteen months ago the Department of Energy started a ongoing monitoring program. Which involved regular visits and collection of data and so forth. And this was the result of legislation that the US Congress adopted recently, which was in response to ongoing concerns about the safety of Enewetak, expressed by the Marshall Islands.
IM: Do the people feel any resentment towards the US Army dumping all this radioactive waste many years ago? And there still isn't a plan for permanent decontamination.
GJ: I think that people in the Marshall Islands and Enewetak in particular, would like to see some solutions to this situation. They would like to see better monitoring. They would like more information. And if you talk to the elected leadership. They are quite blunt about saying there should be, the Runit Dome area, should simply be blocked off. There should be a fence around it there should be signs. Things like that, like at a minimum outlining the fact that it is a hazardous place. It is an incredible thing out there on this far flung atoll. And beyond that I think people would like to see the entire atoll decontaminated.
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