Rongelap Atoll


Rongelap Atoll

Rongelap Atoll is an island-atoll located in Micronesia. It is a municipality of the Marshall Islands. The Atoll consists of 61 islets with a combined area of approximately 3 square miles (8 km²). Its lagoon covers 388 square miles (1,000 km²). It is historically notable for its close proximity to American hydrogen bomb tests in 1954.

History

The United States military conducted atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, including hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific from 1946 through 1958. These tests were primarily in the Bikini Atoll, about 150 miles from Rongelap Atoll. On March 1, 1954, the test of the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb generated radioactive fallout which killed a crew member of a Japanese fishing boat, the Daigo Fukuryū Maru, and contaminated Rongelap. The inhabitants were forced to abandon the islands, leaving all their belongings, three days after the test. They were relocated to Kwajalein for medical treatment.

In 1957, three years later, the USA declared the area 'clean and safe' and allowed the islanders to return [Citation
last = McCool
first = Woodford C.
publication-date = 1957-02-06
title = Return of Rongelapese to their Home Island - Note by the Secretary
publisher = United States Atomic Energy Commission
url = http://worf.eh.doe.gov/ihp/chron/A43.PDF
accessdate = 2007-11-07
] . Evidence of continued contamination mounted, however, as many residents developed thyroid-tumors, and many children died of leukemia. The magistrate of Rongelap, John Anjain, whose own son died of leukemia, appealed for international help, without significant response.

In 1985, Greenpeace helped evacuate the people from Rongelap and aided their resettlement on the islets of Mejatto and Ebeye on Kwajalein-atoll. Ebeye is significantly smaller than the islands of Rongelap, and joblessness, suicide, and overcrowding have proven to be problems following the resettlement.

In September 1996, the United States Department of the Interior signed a 45 million dollar resettlement agreement with the islanders, stipulating that the islanders themselves will scrape off a few inches of Rongelap's still contaminated surface. However, this is an operation deemed impossible by some critics. Now, however, the Mayor James Matayoshi says on his website that the project has been successful and was telling about a new promising future for the inhabitants and also for the tourists. [ [http://www.visitrongelap.com/ Rongelap Atoll Local Government - Marshall Islands ] ]

References

External links

* [http://www.visitrongelap.com/ Rongelap Atoll official site]
* [http://www.greenpeace.org/international/about/history/mejato.htm Greenpeace Rongelap Evacuation History]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093817/ Radio Bikini] : Oscar-nominated 1987 documentary on the 1946 atomic bomb tests on Bikini Atoll and the effects on the Bikinians as well as the US sailors who witnessed the tests.
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0860905/ Het Einde van de Wereld] The End of the World (1995/VPRO-tv/Theo Uittenbogaard) a Dutch documentary on the history of the people of the island Rongelap, who were evacuated due to fallout from the Bikini nuclear tests and their (inc. John Anjain) hearing by a Senate Committee in Washington DC


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