World: A 'tomb' in the Marshall Islands contains enough radioactive waste to fill 35 Olympic-sized pools. It's starting to crack. - - PressFrom - Australia
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World A 'tomb' in the Marshall Islands contains enough radioactive waste to fill 35 Olympic-sized pools. It's starting to crack.

01:20  13 november  2019
01:20  13 november  2019 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

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A ' tomb ' in the Marshall Islands contains enough radioactive waste to fill 35 Olympic - sized In the Marshall Islands , locals have a nickname for the Runit Dome nuclear- waste site: They call it The dome recently began to crack and chip, increasing the odds that strong waves could force the

To put it in easy-to-understand terms, there was enough radioactive debris/soil to fill 35 swimming pools . " It was only a matter of two or three years before women on the island started to give birth to When it comes to raw numbers, the Marshall Islands have seen their sea levels rise an average

a pool next to a body of water: Runit Dome on the Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands. Runit Dome on the Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands.
  • The United States conducted dozens of nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • A few decades later, military servicemen dumped the contaminated soil into a large pit and covered it with concrete.
  • That hazardous tomb, known as the Runit Dome, is now chipping and cracking.
  • Locals fear that rising sea levels could force the structure open, sending radioactive debris into the nearby ocean and lagoon.

In the Marshall Islands, locals have a nickname for the Runit Dome nuclear-waste site: They call it "The Tomb."

The sealed pit contains more than 3.1 million cubic feet of radioactive waste, which workers buried there as part of efforts to clean hazardous debris left behind after the US military detonated nuclear bombs on the land.

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In the Marshall Islands , local residents are reaping what the United States sowed—which includes tons and tons Here in the Marshall Islands , Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic - sized swimming pools Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb ,” is at risk

“No one knew it was radioactive fallout. The children played in the ‘snow.’ In 1983, the Marshall Islands signed a compact agreement of free association with the US, granting the island Cracks reportedly have started to appear in the dome. Part of the threat is that the crater was never properly

From 1977 to 1980, around 4,000 US servicemen were tasked with cleaning up the former nuclear testing site of Enewetak Atoll. They scooped up the contaminated soil, along with other radioactive waste materials such as military equipment, concrete, and scrap metal. It all went into the Runit Dome, which the servicemen then covered with concrete.

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Now it ’ s cracking open. For decades, radioactive debris has sat on an uninhabited island in the Within seconds, a mushroom cloud towered 4½ miles high over Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands . Scientists had underestimated the size of what became known as the “Castle Bravo” test, resulting in

Locals call it The Tomb . Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to

In total, the crater holds enough radioactive waste to fill 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Most of that is irradiated soil carrying plutonium, an isotope that can cause lung cancer if inhaled.

But as seas have gotten higher in the area - the water has risen about 7 millimetres per year since 1993 - water has begun to seep into the soil beneath the dome. Unlike the sealed dome on top, the bottom of the pit was never lined with concrete. So now, rising tides threaten to submerge the tomb - or crack it open.

The Runit Dome is chipping and cracking

Prior to the nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s, residents of Enewetak Atoll were exiled from their homes and relocated to nearby islands. Today, only three of the atoll's 40 islands have been dubbed safe for human habitation. They are currently home to around 650 residents.

The island that hosts Runit Dome remains unoccupied.

a large body of water: An aerial view of the Runit Dome. An aerial view of the Runit Dome.

In 2013, the US Department of Energy reported that radioactive materials could be leaking from the dome into the marine environment, but said such an occurrence would "not necessarily lead to any significant change in the radiation dose delivered to the local resident population."

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But sea levels around the Marshall Islands are rising. By 2030, they could be between 1.2 and 6.3 inches higher than they are now, resulting in more storm surges and coastal flooding. By 2100, the dome could be submerged in water.

Locals fear that mounting damage to the structure could present a new set of health risks.

The dome recently began to crack and chip, increasing the odds that strong waves could force the structure open. A disaster like that would send even more radioactive waste into the nearby ocean or lagoon, which could even force locals to leave the island once again.

"If it does [crack] open, most of the people here will be no more," Christina Aningi, a teacher on Enewetak Atoll, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "This is like a graveyard for us, waiting for it to happen."

Scientists don't know if the dome's radiation levels are harmful

Ken Buesseler, a marine radiochemist who is planning to sample the soil near the dome, recently told Insider that the concern about radiation levels could be overblown.

"There is cesium in everything you eat, plutonium in everything you eat and drink," he said.

Residents of Enewetak Atoll would have to inhale the leaked plutonium, or be exposed to contaminated water through an abrasion, to experience adverse health consequences.

But scientists are still studying the effects of radiation exposure on the islands overall.

"You can't taste or smell or touch or feel it," Buesseler said. "So it's kind of this invisible thing that can harm you, and no one wants that."

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