The top-secret Project 4.1 that Marshallese allege used them as human guinea pigs to study for decades the effects of radiation from U.S. nuclear-weapons experiments has inspired a zombie-studded Halloween attraction in the Washington, D. C. area.

Leaders from the Republic of the Marshall Islands have condemned the highly publicized entertainment, the Marshall Islands Journal reports with a headline “Project 4.1 morphs into haunted house.”

The attraction is a “sad example of gross insensitivity,” according to government official Tony deBrum in the newspaper account. He condemned the attraction in mid-October in the Nitijela (parliament), adding that the U.S. government “claims Project 4.1 didn’t happen.”

Meanwhile, in Honolulu, the Project 4.1 saga is being presented tomorrow (Oct. 18) at the Hawaii International Film Festival in an award-winning documentary titled “Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1.” To be shown at 9:15 p.m. in Dole Cannery C Theater, it is billed as revealing “how U.S. scientists turned a Pacific paradise into a radioactive hell, using Marshall Islanders as guinea pigs for three decades to study the effects of nuclear fallout on human beings.”

Bug-eyed zombies with blistered and blood-splattered faces glamorize on web sites and Facebook the spookiness of the attraction that runs for 23 days until Nov. 3 in an abandoned warehouse in the upscale Baltimore-Washington suburban city of Rockville, Maryland. Tickets are $30.

Zombies stagger through a college food court, parade around a college campus and scare teenage girls in YouTube videos.

The attraction is “going to be more terrifying than any other haunt you’ve ever been to,” key organizer Justin Watson told George Mason University’s student newspaper. “We aim to scare grown men.” Watson graduated from that university in 2010 with a degree in government and international politics but then turned to this entrepreneurial venture.

The Republic of Marshall Islands embassy in Washington, D.C. has posted a description of Project 4.1 and a chronology of the 67 U.S.-detonated nuclear-weapons tests conducted from 1946 to 1958 at http://www.rmiembassyus.org.

Using the Marshallese atolls and waters of Bikini and Enewetak as its main experimental staging areas, the U.S. from 1946 to 1962, detonated 86 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands, the Pacific waters and at Johnston Islands—only 800 miles south of Hawaii. Over 16 years, these 86 bombs yielded the explosive force equal to 8,580 Hiroshima-size bombs—or l.4 weapons a day.


About the author: Beverly Deepe Keever is professor emerita of the University of Hawai’i’s School of Communications. Keever is the author of “News Zero: The New York Times and The Bomb.”

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