Nuclear waste dump in the Marshall Islands, USA

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Nuclear waste dump in the Marshall Islands, USA

The Cold War, which expresses a period of intense tension between the United States of America and the Soviet Union that lasted from the end of the 1940s to 1991 and deeply affected the entire world, caused very interesting developments and the building of extraordinary structures all over the world. Here, the structure called Runit Dome, built by the United States between 1977 and 1980, is one of the most interesting products of the Cold War.

Because the building, which was constructed as a giant concrete dome, contains tons of nuclear waste left over from the nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States for many years. The Runit Dome, which caused serious health problems for many of the people involved in its construction, continues to seriously threaten the lives of people living in the area today. Let’s take a closer look at this unusual Cold War “nuclear dumping”.

The Cold War era saw a bipolar world led by the United States and the Soviet Union.

So much so that the first steps of many technologies, which have a very important place today, were taken in this period in order to prove “superiority over the other side”. Many extraordinary innovations, from space and computer technologies to the weapons industry, from transportation technology to unique spy applications, were products of the Cold War. However, the most distinctive feature of this tense environment, which has been under the influence of the whole world for many years, was the fondness for nuclear weapons.

Nuclear tension during the Cold War era prompted both countries to undertake important activities in this field.

However, II. The atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of World War II revealed the devastation that nuclear weapons had on humanity, yet the two great powers that risked everything to become a Cold War-era superpower saw no harm in fighting it. All their strength in the nuclear arms race …

USA II. After World War II, he sought a new geography for nuclear weapons testing.

The searched area was found off the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea: the Marshall Islands. The area was found suitable for nuclear weapons testing due to its distance from the mainland. The indigenous people living in this geography of hundreds of large and small islands were only a small obstacle to the United States in the nuclear arms race.

Between 1946-1958 67 nuclear bombs were detonated in the Marshall Islands!

Moreover, some of the nuclear bombs that exploded in the region were 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima! However, the Marshall Islands has also been the home of US biological weapons testing. In short, the region has become the center for studies of the development of nuclear and biological weapons of the United States.

The development of US nuclear weapons was largely completed in the 1970s

The experiments conducted in the Marshall Islands provided very important data for the country that claims to be the superpower in the Western world. However, in exchange for this precious data, the Marshall Islands’ lush forests have been replaced by nuclear waste, and golden beaches have been replaced by deadly radioactive clouds.

The United States decided to withdraw from the region in 1972.

Ronet's dome
Ronet Island

Moreover, he agreed to face the consequences of the devastation he had wrought in the region and to cleanse the islands of nuclear waste. The place where these intensive cleaning work will take place will be Ronet Island, which is the center for nuclear weapons testing.

In 1977, construction of a very interesting structure began on Ronet Island.

Ronet's dome

The reinforced concrete structure to be built on the island will be filled with nuclear waste from the area. However, the United States failed to find any private institution that would undertake the construction of this “nuclear landfill”. For this reason, it falls to the engineers, laborers and military personnel of the country to build the structure.

Between 1977 and 1980, thousands of people, including 4,000 military personnel, built what was later called the Ronet Dome.

Ronet's dome

A hole 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools deep was dug, and nuclear waste in the area was filled with shovels and construction equipment.

Ronet's dome

The huge nuclear dump was mixed with concrete and covered with a concrete dome about 155 meters long and 46 centimeters thick.

Ronet's dome

Ronet’s dome became known as “The Cactus Dome” and “The Tomb” in the years that followed.

Ronet's dome

Hundreds of workers in the construction of the building suffered from many serious diseases, especially cancer, due to the radiation they were exposed to, and dozens lost their lives.

This structure still poses a serious threat to the indigenous people living in the area today.

Ronet's dome

Some people who had to leave the geography in which they lived many years ago decided to return to the islands as the United States withdrew from the area. However, the Runite Dome is a very significant threat to the local people living in the area today.

Because despite its massive dimensions, the concrete dome wears out a little more every year. Some experts state that due to floods and similar natural disasters that may be caused by climate change, the structure may be damaged and 111,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste may spread into the Pacific Ocean.

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