The Dangers of the U.S.'s Nuclear Time Capsule
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Health and Wellness

The Dangers of the U.S.'s Nuclear Time Capsule

The Runit Dome poses a concerning ecological threat to wildlife and humanity.

The Dangers of the U.S.'s Nuclear Time Capsule

Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall islands is located in the Pacific Ocean, 2,700 miles southwest of Hawaii.

As part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands until the Marshall Islands established independence in 1986, the United States gained control of Enewetak after the end of World War II.

During the tenancy, local residence were evacuated from their homes multiple times as the atoll was scheduled to be used for nuclear testing as part of the Pacific Proving Grounds.

The U.S. Government, during the Cold War, managed to conduct 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands; pummeling the beautiful, secluded landscape with nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.

After a radiological survey of Enewetak was conducted, leading the U.S. military to commence the decontamination of Enewetak and surrounding islands in 1977. The 3-year, $100 million clean-up process, the military mixed approx. 110,000 cubic yards of radioactive contaminated soil and 6,000 cubic yards of contaminated debris from the Islands with cement and buried it in an atomic blast crater on the northern area of the atoll's Runit Island.

To the world's misfortune, it's been reported that the government had failed to originally construct a concrete lining to contain the debris. The dome currently is threatened by rising sea levels as water had reportedly entered the dome – introducing the likely possibility that radioactive waste could leak out.

The Marshall Islands government, which was saddled with the responsibility for the dome, is worried about its condition and the catastrophic consequences it could have. Many worry that the dome could be one tropical storm away from cracking and exposing the radioactive contents to wildlife and humanity.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, otherwise known as the 2020 defense budget, directs the DOE to investigate "the status of the Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands" and the dangers posed by potential leaks. Along with this, the DOE has also been directed the construction of "a detailed plan to repair the dome to ensure that it does not have any harmful effects to the local population, environment, or wildlife, including the projected cost of implementing such a plan."

The Department of Energy (DOE) has six months to report back on the status of the dome, which is apparently cracked and filling with seawater.

The Runit Dome, known locally as the "Tomb," is so large that you can see it from space, but this dome was not meant to be permanent.

The crater was not lined before radioactive waste was chucked inside, and it's been reported that water from the sea has found a way inside. As sea levels rise due to global warming, the Pacific Ocean is edging closer and closer to the dome.

It's not clear how this huge problem will be solved. While the U.S. is not legally obligated to provide assistance, it's also equally clear that if the dome ruptures, the U.S. will be the center of blame for the ecological disaster.

The dome is now under the jurisdiction of the government of the Marshall Islands, and a 1979 agreement between the two governments states that the U.S. is not responsible for any problems that might arise from past nuclear experiments. However, the Marshall Islands is a small and poor state and doesn't have the resources to move the dome's contents to a new, permanent home.

Regardless of who's responsibility it is, the "Tomb" remains hazardous to nature and humanity, and must be dealt with effectively.

The potential dangers of allowing the dome to reside in its current state are too great to be ignored.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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