A highly dangerous nuclear vault lies just a few feet
above sea level on a coral atoll
With the seas rising every year, the atolls will have disappeared below the waves long before they are ever habitable and long before the nuclear waste is safe.
cubic yards of radioactive waste
nuclear blasts over twelve years
equivalent to 1.6 Hiroshima bombs
years before it is safe at a minimum
The purpose of this site is three-fold; a compendium of documents and accounts of the US’s presence in the Marshall Islands. A plea to get involved, to shed your indifference. And lastly, a gateway to my fundraiser; I’m going to make a documentary about the whole, sorry affair. This project is a clarion call because we’re all in deep, deep trouble if we ignore this.
In 1946, the US began testing nuclear weapons in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. What happens in the ensuing years is harrowing and makes for difficult reading. It will make you look at your government in a different light. I’ve tried to lay it out as clearly and truthfully as I can. I’ve used the spoken testimony of the people who lived through it.
The story of America’s testing of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands is one of heart-rending betrayal and broken promises, to the islanders and to its own citizens.
They were told that the tests were “for the good of all mankind”, that they would “end all wars” and that they would be able to return to their beautiful islands once the tests were over. None of it true. The literal tidal waves that spread out from the tests between 1946 and 1958 may have dissipated but left unimaginable destruction in their wake, not just huge, gaping wounds to the atolls themselves but also deep, festering sores on the psyche of the people; it’s an entire population with PTSD. They can never go back to the atolls, they’re so radioactive.
I immediately saw in this story a documentary film project that would draw together many elements that mirror my own deeply held beliefs; a human rights tragedy, US militaristic expansionism, the enormous environmental degradation and the effects of global warming. All of it capped off with the almost unimaginable threat posed by a forgotten remnant of the Cold War. There was also an overarching campaign of secrecy and disinformation during the US’s time here. The truth needed to be hidden by some powerful vested interests.
The atolls proved to be the ideal locations for the weapons testing the US wanted to do, ostensibly because the atolls were remote and sparsely populated with what were referred to as “happy, amenable savages” in government newsreels of the early 50’s. They could easily be moved and were, frequently; herded around like so many sheep. The deep racial undertones of this story are impossible to ignore. There’s no amount of lipstick you can put on this pig….
A huge remediation effort in the late 1970’s scraped Enewetak’s most toxic islands and placed a massive pile of the most deadly, radioactive substances known to man in a crater, enough to fill a football stadium, then put a huge concrete cap over it. And it’s this crater, code-named Cactus after the weapon that created it, that is at the very focus of this website and the documentary to come, because Cactus is now a problem of gargantuan proportions… it’s leaking.
Water is already inside the dome and it is beginning to crack. The tests produced unimaginable physical damage but far more insidious was the slow unravelling of the social and cultural fabric of the nation once they’d ended. A medical program was established in the 1970’s to study the various cancers, deformities, stunted growth and other ill effects the tests left in their wake. Most of the islanders believe this was one of the primary goals of the tests, to turn them into guinea pigs for study and worryingly, there’s plenty of evidence to back them up.
They will tell you, they belong to this land; this is where they come from, yet so crushing is their sadness that many speak of no longer procreating, of inviting their own extinction. This is the true legacy of the Bomb.
If Cactus should fail, the effects on humanity will be catastrophic