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USA Nuclear Testing on Bikini Atoll

STORY BY: Allan Whicker
YEAR: 1958
LOCATION: Bikini Atoll, Pacific Ocean

Allan shares a Cold War story about the Nuclear Arms race between the USA and the Soviet Union, when each superpower was rushing to build more and more powerful bombs. Allan's story touches on the USA nuclear testing program at Bikini Atoll, which consists of 23 islands totalling 8.8 km2 surrounding a large central lagoon. The USA detonated 23 nuclear devices between 1946 and 1958, including a hydrogen bomb that is said to have been 1000 times more powerful than each of the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Thanks for sharing, Allan.

More information sourced from Wikipedia:
"The military authorities and scientists had promised the Bikini Atoll's native residents that they would be able to return home after the nuclear tests. A majority of the island's family heads agreed to leave the island, and most of the residents were moved to the Rongerik Atoll and later to Kili Island. Both locations proved unsuitable to sustaining life, resulting in starvation and requiring the residents to receive ongoing aid. Despite the promises made by authorities, this and further nuclear tests (Redwing in 1956 and Hardtack in 1958) rendered Bikini unfit for habitation, contaminating the soil and water, making subsistence farming and fishing too dangerous. The United States later paid the islanders and their descendants $125 million in compensation for damage caused by the nuclear testing program and their displacement from their home island. As of 2014, it may be technically possible for the former residents and their descendants to live on the atoll's islands, but virtually none of those alive today have ever lived on the atoll and very few want to move there. A 2016 investigation found radiation levels on Bikini Atoll as high as 639 mrem yr−1, well above the established safety standard threshold for habitation of 100 mrem yr−1. However, in 2017, Stanford University scientists reported "an abundance of marine life apparently thriving in the crater of Bikini Atoll."[10] Research is being undertaken on how marine organisms are surviving in a radiation-filled environment, which could lead to improved understanding of cancer and increased human longevity."

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