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70 Years Later Bikini Islanders Still Deal With Fallout From US Nuclear Tests

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 titanic1    223



In the summer of 1946, the US government detonated the first of many atomic bomb tests in the Marshall Islands. Seventy years of radiation exposure later, residents are still fighting for justice.

In 1946, French fashion designer Jacques Heim released a woman’s swimsuit he called the ‘Atome’ (French for “atom”) – a name selected to suggest its design would be as shocking to people that summer as the atomic bombings of Japan had been the summer before.


The scandalous ‘Bikini,’ small enough to fit in a matchbox like the one she’s holding.
Not to be outdone, competitor Louis Réard raised the stakes, quickly releasing an even more skimpy swimsuit. The Vatican found Réard’s swimsuit more than shocking, declaring it to actually be ‘sinful‘. So what did Réard consider an appropriate name for his creation? He called it the ‘Bikini‘ – a name meant to shock people even more than ‘Atome’. But why was this name so shocking?

In the summer of 1946, ‘Bikini’ was all over the news. It’s the name of a small atoll – a circular group of coral islands – within the remote mid-Pacific island chain called the Marshall Islands. The US had assumed control of the former Japanese territory after the end of World War II, just a few months earlier.

The US soon came up with some very big plans for the little atoll of Bikini. After forcing the 167 residents to relocate to another atoll, they started to prepare Bikini as an atomic bomb test site. Two test bombings scheduled for that summer were intended to be very visible demonstrations of the US’s newly acquired nuclear might. Media coverage of the happenings at Bikini was extensive and public interest ran very high. Who could have foreseen that even now – 70 years later – the Marshall Islanders would still be suffering the aftershocks from the nuclear bomb 

The big plan for tiny Bikini

According to the testing schedule, the US plan was to demolish a 95-vessel fleet of obsolete warships on June 30, 1946 with an airdropped atomic bomb. Reporters, US politicians and representatives from the major governments of the world would witness events from distant observation ships. On July 24, a second bomb, this time detonated underwater, would destroy any surviving naval vessels.


These two sequential tests were intended to allow comparison of air-detonated versus underwater-detonated atomic bombs in terms of destructive power to warships. The very future of naval warfare in the advent of the atomic bomb was in the balance. Many assumed the tests would clearly show that naval ships were now obsolete and that air forces represented the future of global warfare.


Between 1946 and 1958, the United States waged nuclear war on emptied islands in the Pacific. Bikini Atoll and the Enewetak Islands were evacuated first, their inhabitants moved from the blast. All in all, around 200 people were evacuated, but the plan was never that the islands be permanently abandoned. Now many of the displaced and their descendants want to move back to the islands, but leftover radiation is the greatest obstacle. When will it be it safe to move back to the site of 67 nuclear tests?

A team of researchers visited the islands to find out. Their new study, led by Emlyn Hughes from Columbia University’s Center for Nuclear Studies, updates estimates of the islands' radiation levels. In August 2015, the team traveled more than 1,000 miles in two weeks, getting radiation readings on some of the islands in the Enewetak Atoll, Bikini Atoll, and Rongelap Atoll. These readings were then compared with radiation readings from Majuro Atoll in the southern Marshall Islands (a control island, for the purposes of the study) and with readings of Central Park in New York City.
Central Park and the Majuro Atoll experience 100 and 9 millirems of radiation per year, respectively. Enewetak had the lowest radiation levels, at 7.6 mrem/y, which makes sense, since the island has had extensive cleanup efforts. Rongelap has higher levels at 19.8 mrem/y, and Bikini Atoll has the most radiation of the islands studied, with a mean of 184 mrem/y. The authors note their estimates disagree with earlier estimates from the mid-1990s, which indicated a level of radiation close to what this study found in 2015, despite the fact that 20 years of decay happened between the studies.


Edited by titanic1

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20 years of radioactive decay? So? The half-life of Uranium is ~ 4 billion years.

If you handle uranium and swallow it, you will be harmed. Madame Curie.

A-bombs? no way. They were great loads of TNT, napalm, phosphorus, etc. 

Nukes are fear porn to make us go to war or do whatever we are told we have to do. Do you think our "nuclear" power plants are really using fuel rods? When reactors have meltdowns, people leave and the animals are free to thrive. Witness Chernobyl. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are witnesses to fire bombing devastation. No measurable levels of radiation were recorded shortly after the bombs fell.

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6 hours ago, roadtoad2 said:

Yeah, I knew a heavy equipment operator that worked there. He died of cancer.

Did he smoke? Drink fluoridated water? Use pesticides? Etc. If atomic bombs caused cancer, everyone in Japan should be dead.

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 Guitar Doc    1,203

Not just bikini, most of the pacific including NZ and OZ where the USA did many nuclear tests above ground.

Huge skin cancer rates over here they fob off on the fake ozone hole.

The French also did a lot of nuke testing in the Pacific.

A lot of background radiation still remains. I remember using a Geiger counter in school and we could see and hear the levels.

It is the mutations which are passed down which have the lasting effect down through generations.

Japan learned how to deal with it. My Gfather was there during the 7 year occupation. Most of his comrades died or cancer, but not until decades later.

Take your iodine. The Japanese learned. Alovera as well.


Anyone seen "Ground zero"? The Aussie film. That is a true story with real footage of what they did to the Abo's.

Tested on people to see the short term lethality. They didn't care about the long term. They wanted to find out how quick they could deploy soldiers after nuking a place.

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