In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on an islet of the Marshall Islands, next to a huge crater, stands an enormous round structure in reinforced concrete 107 meters in diameter. In the eyes of the first observers it looked like a spaceship! Then approaching …
The Dome of Runit, nicknamed “The Tomb”, Runit Island, Enewetak Atoll. In 1977-1980 the crater created by the explosion of Cactus, a nuclear device used as an experiment during Operation Hardtack I, was used as a pit to bury 84,000 cubic meters of radioactive soil removed from the various contaminated islands of Enewetak atoll, and covered by the reinforced concrete dome built to isolate the material.
After the end of World War II, Enewetak came under US control as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands until the independence of the Marshall Islands in 1986. During the tenure, the US evacuated local residents and the he atoll was used for nuclear testing as part of the Pacific Proving Grounds. Before starting the tests, the United States exhumed the bodies of the US military killed in the Battle of Enewetak and brought them back to the United States to be buried again by their families. From 1948 to 1958, 43 nuclear tests were carried out in Enewetak. The first hydrogen bomb test, codenamed Ivy Mike, took place in late 1952 by vaporizing the islet of Elugelab.
From 1972 to 1973, a radiological survey of Enewetak was conducted, and in 1977, the United States Army began decontamination of Enewetak and other atolls. The military mixed more than 80,000 cubic meters of soil and debris from the islands contaminated with Portland cement and buried it on Runit Island, in the crater 9 meters deep and 107 meters wide created by the nuclear weapons test of 5 May 1958 nicknamed “Cactus” . On the material was built was a dome composed of 358 concrete panels, each 46 cm thick with a final cost of 239 million dollars. In 1980 the United States declared the southern and western islands of the atoll safe for habitation and the same year the inhabitants of Enewetak returned to live there. Military members who attended the cleanup mission to date suffer from many health problems caused by radiation exposure but the US government refuses to provide health coverage.
Recently Columbia University and the Los Angeles Times, after having visited Runit on several occasions, found the dome, due to the increase in temperatures, begins to show cracks, and due to the rise in sea level, a release has begun of radioactive material in the surrounding waters. The data found that the radiation present in the Marshall Islands is comparable to that present in Fukoshima and Chernobyl.
The government of the Marshall Islands believes that the responsibility lies with the United States, which has rejected all requests to the sender. The population agrees: “We didn’t create the nuclear waste inside the dome.”, “This material is poisoning our sea.” and again “The dome is not ours. We don’t want it!”