One typhoon away from disaster

The US has poisoned an entire region of the Pacific Ocean with nuclear weapons tests. Beginning in 1977, more than 8,000 people worked to clean up the Marshall Islands, shifting 80,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil and debris into a blast crater. This 10 meters-deep crater on Enewetak Atoll is called the Runit Dome, also called 'Cactus Dome' or - locally - 'The Tomb'.
The dome spans 100 meters across with an almost 50 centimetres thick concrete cap covering radioactive debris from 12-years of US government nuclear tests.

The costs associated with nuclear tests for any country have been quite devastating for surrounding communities. Enewetak Atoll is a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean, where the US detonated 30 megatons of weapons – equivalent to 2,000 Hiroshima blasts – between 1948 and 1958. In total, 67 nuclear bombs detonated on Enewetak Atoll and Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The massive explosions created cracks in the coral. This allowed the tides of the ocean to pump water into the dome and then pump radioactive water out. Now, the dome’s concrete structure is rapidly deteriorating. Since global warming will result in a continued rise in seawater levels, the concrete dome may soon be exposed to the tides. The dome could be just one typhoon away from a breach.

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