ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Rising seas caused by climate change are seeping inside a United States nuclear waste dump on a remote and low-lying Pacific atoll, flushing out radioactive substances left behind from some of the world’s largest atomic weapons tests...
“We call it the tomb,” says Christina Aningi, the head teacher of Enewetak’s only school.
“The children understand that we have a poison in our island.”
It’s “Manit Day” on Enewetak Atoll, a celebration of Marshall Islands culture when the Pacific nation’s troubled past seems a distant memory.
Schoolchildren sit cross-legged on the coral sands as they sing of the islands and atolls, the sunshine and the breeze; “flowers and moonlight, swaying palm trees”.
They were born decades after the last nuclear explosion ripped through the warm Pacific air with a thunderous roar. But it’s hard to escape the long echo of the bombs.
“Gone are the days when we live in fear, fear of the bombs, guns and nuclear,” they sing.
“This is the time ... this is my country, this is my land.”
But those old fears, thought to be long buried, are threatening to reawaken in their island paradise.
On an atoll in the far-flung west of the Marshall Islands, halfway between Australia and Hawaii, sits “the dome”.
Approaching from the water, it’s hard to appreciate the true scale of the concrete vault, with its shallow profile obscured by palm trees and scrub.
But from the air it looks like a giant flying saucer has crashed on the tip of a deserted island.
Buried beneath this vast disc is 85,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste — a toxic legacy from the dawning of the thermonuclear age.
In the late 1970s, Runit Island, on the remote Enewetak Atoll, was the scene of the largest nuclear clean-up in United States history.
Highly contaminated debris left over from dozens of atomic weapons tests was dumped into a 100-metre wide bomb crater on the tip of the uninhabited island.
US Army engineers sealed it up with a half-metre thick concrete cap almost the size of an Australian football ground, then left the island.
Now with sea levels rising, water has begun to penetrate the dome.
A report commissioned by the US Department of Energy in 2013 found...
Read full story HERE from ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
By Mark Willacy
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