Enewetak Atoll: The Runit Dome

ABC’s reporter Mark Willacy goes in search of the secret story behind a concrete dome buried on the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Reports are mounting up and leaking its secrets. They show the dome contains thousands of cubic metres of radioactive waste – and some of it is spilling out harming the nearby environment.

The nuclear fallout is the legacy of over a decade of US nuclear tests in the pacific.

These nuclear tests were called The Pacific Proving Grounds and were conducted between 1946 and 1962. During this time the US carried out 105 atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests in the Pacific.

Because of the large amount of atmospheric testing, and especially the Castle Bravo accident of 1954, many of the islands which were part of the Pacific Proving Grounds are still contaminated by nuclear fallout.

Many of the island inhabitants at the time of testing suffered from increased incidence of various types of cancers and birth defects.

Scientists calculated in 2010 that during the lifetimes of members of the Marshall Islands population, potentially exposed to ionizing radiation from weapons test fallout deposited during the testing period (1948-1958) and from residual radioactive sources during the subsequent 12 years (1959-1970), perhaps 1.6% (with 90% uncertainty range 0.4% to 3.4%) of all cancers might be attributable to fallout-related radiation exposures.

Today, some of those affected by the nuclear tests and the following cleanup process speak up – hopefully shining light on a huge environmental problem for the Marshall Islands.

Enewetak Atoll: The Runit Dome
  • Info
  • Release date2017
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Marianne Leitch
  • Production companyABC News