In a report last month from the U.S. Department of Energy to Congress, researchers concluded that a repository for atomic waste in the Republic of the Marshall Islands is not in “any immediate danger of collapse or failure.”
The report states that the exterior concrete covering the containment structure known as the Runit Dome “is still serving its intended purpose, effectively reducing the wind and water erosion of the waste pile below.”
Any radioactive leakage into the nearby lagoon was deemed not significant. But leaders of the RMI aren’t buying it, according to The Los Angeles Times.
“We don’t expect the Enewetak community to feel any safer based on this report as it doesn’t contain any new information from what they’ve seen … and don’t trust,” said Rhea Christian-Moss, the chairperson of the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission.
Enewetak is the name of the atoll where the dome is located.
According to the Times, the DOE’s lead contractor on the project said the report shows that “under the hard facts of radiation science, existing data and information show that the risks posed by Runit Dome are unlikely to impact on the health status of the people” living near the dome.
In November 2019 the Times published a major story titled “How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster.” The Runit Dome was a focus of the article.
Between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, 43 at Enewetak Atoll. As the report acknowledges, “Radioactive fallout from these tests resulted in environmental contamination.”
Built on a giant hole in the atoll caused by a 1958 nuclear test — it is known as the Cactus Crater — the structure holds over 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris.
The dome was completed in 1979 by the U.S.
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