It was supposed to be a trip to paradise, instead it sealed their fate
Some of those bombs were the among the most powerful ever detonated, and they left behind a toxic legacy that will live on for thousands of years.
“One of the attempted nuclear weapons explosions didn’t work,” Michael Gerrard, the director of the Earth Institute at New York’s Columbia University, says. “So the plutonium was just broken apart by the conventional explosion, leading to about 400 little chunks of plutonium that were spread around the atoll.”
A poison on our island
The Marshall Islands is once again grappling with its nuclear legacy, as the threat of climate change threatens to break open the dome.
The plutonium on Enewetak has a radioactive half-life of more than 24,000 years, and the US clean-up troops were ordered to place the shattered pieces into plastic bags and dump them into a crater left behind by an old atomic bomb test.
One-millionth of a gram of plutonium is potentially harmful, and can cause cancer decades after first exposure.