Climate Change Could Crack Open a Cold War-Era Nuclear Waste Tomb

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As if catastrophic weather events, flooding, forced migrations, and food shortages weren’t enough of a reason to get moving on a serious plan to combat climate change, here’s one more: it may be about to crack open a Cold War-era nuclear tomb.

What is that? Let’s get a little history lesson…

During the Cold War, the Pentagon thought they’d show off the U.S. nuclear muscle by dropping 67 bombs on the atolls of the Marshall Islands.

Afterward, they gathered up (most of) the irradiated soil and debris from six of the Pacific Islands, and took it (along with contaminated Nevadan soil) and entombed it in a giant, concrete-domed pit on Runit Island.

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Here in the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands — vaporizing whole islands, carving craters into its shallow lagoons and exiling hundreds of people from their homes. Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb,” is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change. Tides are creeping up its sides, advancing higher every year as distant glaciers melt and ocean waters rise. Officials in the Marshall Islands have lobbied the U.S. government for help, but American officials have declined, saying the dome is on Marshallese land and therefore the responsibility of the Marshallese government. Read more via source: https://www.latimes.com/projects/marshall-islands-nuclear-testing-sea-level-rise/

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“The Tomb” is a 17-inch thick concrete dome with a 377-foot diameter, built to contain radioactive material dumped in “Pacific Proving Grounds” (as I’m tying this I’m thinking dear god, what were people thinking back then?!).

The containment has worked since the late 1970s, but now, as the L.A. Times reports, the dome might be close to cracking open as sea levels rise and the climate changes.

Reporters from the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University have found evidence that the dome is covered in cracks that are getting worse as the temperature steadily rises. The sea levels around Runit Island are also rising, causing radioactive material to leak into surrounding waters.

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? Cactus Dome, Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands. Architect: n/a Photographer: US Defense Special Weapons Agency Via: wikipedia.org #art #artist #architect #archilovers #architecture #architectureporn #architecturephotography #architecturelovers #awesome #brut #brutal #brutalism #brutalist #brutalismarchitecture #beautiful #perfect #raw #concrete #minimalism #style #details #design #dope #graphic #geometric #structure #aesthetic #marshallislands #nuclear #beton

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Earlier this year, a peer-reviewed study found that some regions of the Marshall Islands have radiation levels comparable to Chernobyl and Fukushima.

The re-emergence of the Cold War-era issue is dredging up old grievances, as well. When the Marshall Islands officially gained their independence from the U.S. in 1986, the States washed their hands of responsibility for the mess they left behind.

Although the U.S. government agreed to pay for resettlement and healthcare for those affected by the testing, they wanted nothing to do with dealing with the continued monitoring and maintenance of “The Tomb.”

Recently, Hilda Heine, the president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, made it clear that she doesn’t agree with the States’ way of thinking on this one.

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A concrete dome build on Runit Island of the Marshall Islands during the Cold War by the United States that holds massive amounts of nuclear waste is breaking open, an LA Times report claims. This report is backed up by the residents and government of the Marshall Islands, which says that plutonium is leaking into the Pacific Ocean and onto the rest of the islands as a result of climate change. Rising temperatures and sea levels have created cracks in the dome, and it is only looking to get worse as time goes on. The United States government has dismissed responsibility for this to the Marshall Islands. This, of course, comes as no surprise. The United States government has an long history of causing destruction both deliberately or indirectly, then recusing themselves of responsibility for cleaning up the mess. People have long said the United States is a threat to world peace, but this goes beyond that. It can safely be said that the United States is a threat to the world as a whole. . . . #anarchy #anarchist #usa #america #trump #nuke #coldwar #government #marshallislands #climatechange #climate #world #pacific #ocean #nuclear #politics #left #leftist #communism #socialism #capitalism

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“I’m like, how can the dome be ours? We don’t want it. We didn’t build it, The garbage inside is not ours. It’s theirs.”

She’s not wrong, but as an American, I would like to tell President Heine that, regardless of how correct she is in her thinking, she may want to make a plan to deal with the mess.

Because the chances the U.S. government has one seem pretty darn small.