Scientific discoveries that enabled the use of radioactive elements not only in theory but also in practice enabled man to produce powerful reactors and the latest nuclear weapons. Despite the considerable benefits of such discoveries, humanity is constantly making its destructive contribution to the environment. Recent studies of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific have shown that they are still more radioactive than Chernobyl and Fukushima, although more than 60 years have passed since nuclear tests were conducted on them. The results of soil tests on some islands showed that the plutonium levels – 239 and 240 – are 10 to 1000 times higher than in Fukushima, where an earthquake and a tsunami destroyed nuclear reactors.
How are atomic bomb tests tested?
The dropping of nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 was the de facto conclusion of the Second World War. Nevertheless, the United States was interested in continuing to test radioactive weapons, so a number of such tests fell on the Marshall Islands, which appear as an island chain between Hawaii and the Philippines.
The first two bombs were named Able and Baker, which were then tested in 1946 on the Bikini Atoll. In this way, it was possible to lay the foundation for a 12-year nuclear test of the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls, on the basis of which 67 nuclear weapons were tested.
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The first hydrogen bomb test, codenamed Ivy Mike, was conducted in 1951 in Enivetok Atoll. Then in 1954, the largest hydrogen bomb test was carried out on the Bikini Atoll. The "hero" of the day was the bomb, which was 1000 times stronger than the atomic little boy who destroyed Hiroshima.
Scientists say that the consequences of nuclear testing not only contaminated the atolls of Bikini and Enivetok, but also affected people living on the atolls of Ronzhelap and Utirik, also part of the Marshall Islands.
What could be the consequences of atomic bomb tests?
A team of scientists from Columbia University has published the results of a series of studies conducted on the northern Marshall Islands' atolls: Bikini, Enivetok, Rongelap and Utirik. External gamma radiation levels were significantly elevated at the Bikini and Enivetok atolls as well as at the Anghebi and Nayen islands compared to the islands in the south of the Marshall Islands, which served as control points.
According to a source in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists found that the soil on the Runit and Angjee islands of the Envetok Atoll, as well as on the Bikini Islands and the Nayen Islands, contains a high concentration of radioactive isotopes, while all four islands of the level exceeded radioactive plutonium, the amount of which was significantly higher than those in Fukushima and Chernobyl.
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During the research, the scientists also worked with professional divers who collected 130 soil samples from Castle Bravo Crater on Bikini Atoll. As a result, it was found that the plutonium isotope levels-239 and 240, americium-241 and bismuth-207 were significantly higher than those of the same substances found on other Marshall Islands. Researchers believe that such measurements of radioactive contamination are important for assessing the impact on ocean ecosystems.
Scientists believe the government needs to take additional measures to protect people living in the Marshall Islands to protect the local population, which is constantly exposed to harmful radiation exposure. According to the latest studies on local vegetation, fruits and vegetables on infected islands have an increased radiation exposure and threaten the lives of the local population of the islands.