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Blowing Up Paradise

Blowing Up Paradise

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Blowing Up Paradise

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  1. Blowing Up Paradise The Marshall Islands The use of the Marshall Islands by the US for nuclear testing, the role of government, the impact on the indigenous people

  2. The Marshall Islands (US) • In 1885, Germany took possession of the Marshall Islands in Micronesia • In 1898, the United States became the colonial power in Micronesia • Japanese traders also settled in these islands and were responsible for them • The US took possession of the islands after World War II • The Marshall Islands were under US military occupation

  3. Atolls are lagoons in the ocean surrounded by coral reefs The US chose the remote atolls of the Marshall Islands to test their nuclear weapons. Atolls

  4. Role of Government: Timeline • March 1946: People of Bikini Islands Atoll (Bikinians) were relocated to a new island that had poor water quality and poor food resources • 1st July 1946: US detonated a bomb over old World War II ships • 25th July 1946: A second bomb was detonated underwater – a sheet of water 1 mile high engulfed Bikini Atoll; the WWII ships eventually sunk due to the radiation levels

  5. 1954: Operation Castle Bravo – detonation was twice as powerful as expected • 15,000 megatonne thermonuclear giant was 1000 times more powerful than the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima • A 40 km fireball blazed above Bikini atoll • Contamination spread over 10,000 km of the Pacific region

  6. Impact on Indigenous People • When the Bikinian people were relocated they were promised that they could return to their homes, however as soon as they left their huts were burnt down to begin testing • They were relocated to Rongerik Atoll, which the local people believed was haunted by the “Demon Girls of Ujae” • The food sources were scarce, which led to malnutrition

  7. During the testing, hundreds of people living on Rongelap Atoll were exposed to the radioactive fallout and were evacuated • They were allowed back 3 years later but rates of cancer and birth defects continued to rise • 77% of the Rongelap people who had been under 10 when the testing occurred had surgery in the subsequent years to remove cancers • Japanese fisherman were also exposed to radiation poisoning

  8. By 1958 16 tests had been conducted on Bikini Atoll • 1954 – shifted to Enewetak Atoll, Chistmas Island and Johnston Atoll • The US dropped 12 bombs in 4 years • 1962 – dropped 25 bombs on Christmas Island • The largest was the equivalent to 20 million tonnes of explosives, it is estimated that 2 million birds were killed

  9. The sad facts • The US dropped 66 nuclear bombs between 1946 and 1958 • 6 islands were vaporised • Many islands are still uninhabitable