I was a surveyor on the advance party to Lojwa. When I arrived it was just brush and a lot of birds that objected to our presence.
I laid out the roads and placed the building and utilitiy locations.
We all lived in tents and bathed in the ocean upon our arrival and we built the infrastructure that would support the cleanup crew.
As a surveyor, I was considered to be reconnaissance for the mission.
One of the first things I had to do as a 20 year old surveyor was to visit Runit and locate plutonium that was previously located and documented on the island.
I was accompanied with, I believe, an Air Force radiation specialist. He was definitely not Army personnel. We were brought to the island on a Boston Whaler and I was given a pinch nose cotton mask and rubber boots to protect me from radiation.
The radiation tech turned on his geiger counter and the machine was making sounds like you would expect from being in a radioactive area…clicking rapidly and menacingly.
We walked towards the Northernmost part of Runit along the inside of the island and the geiger did something I didnt know that they did: it let out a sharp, loud, constant and shrill alert alarm as we approached the area that the plutonium was. I would say somewhere around 50 to 75 yards from its location.
There were metal stakes (poles) that had deteriating engineer flagging on them. In the middle of this area there was a small glass bottle with a metal lid that was being eaten away by corrosion. It was the size of a baby food jar.
Inside this jar was a molten, lead-like looking piece of plutonium that was the size of my fingernail…bigger than a raisin, smaller than a grape.
The tech told me the radiation it gave off was only detrimental to my health if I ingested it into my system through my skin or my lungs. He said the glass would protect me from skin contact. Seeing as to where I had a mask on, I asked if it was safe to pick it up so I could view it better. He said it was safe so I picked up the jar and held it a foot or so from my face to view it’
Is that considered exposure to radiation?