Listen: Marshall Islands, United States And Professor discussed on KCBS Radio Weekend News
"Secretary general is sounding the alarm. I'm that radioactive material is leaking into the Pacific Ocean from a concrete storage dome. In the Marshall Islands that dome was built in the late nineteen seventies temporary dumping ground for waste from nuclear explosions carried out by the United States and France in the region. For more KCBS Rebecca Corrales spoke with Gabriel, Gabrielle Hecht professor of nuclear security, and history at Stanford, what is known about this site in the Marshall Islands. Well, the site, he said was built in the late nineteen seventies and it, well it was it was built on the site of a crater caused by one of the nuclear test, and it was meant to how contaminated soil that was scraped off a variety of other islands mixed with cement, and buried in the crater. So we're talking about one hundred eleven thousand two yards of soil. And then this was covered with an eighteen inch concrete cap and dome. But as you said, it was always supposed to be a temporary fix. So, for example, the crater wasn't lying, which means that groundwater can enter and mix up with the materials that are in there and become contaminated in that way. All right. So why did it turn into a permanent thing when it was supposed to be temporary? And what was supposed to replace it? Well, there was never a plan to replace it in fact. Yeah. Temporary solution just kind of became a permanent one defacto congress, actually refused to fund a comprehensive decontamination program for the Marshall Islands. Okay. And so presumably it will continue with this leaking unless something is done presumably, yes, that is that is the case, especially given climate change rising sea, waters, and tied means of the height of the groundwater under the containment structure, is, is rising. So the potential for grant water contamination is increasing, and this affect the marine environment and sediments all around the atoll. So how much is leaking out of me? What, what sorts of things are. We seeing how dangerous stuff that's coming out. Well, what the department of energy says, is that the stuff that's coming out, if no more dangerous than the stuff that's already in the sediments around the atoll which, you know, is not terribly reassuring, because sediments are already quite radioactive. So part of the issue is that there's a lot that they don't know about all the stuff that they crammed in there. So they don't know what the total inventory, or isotope mix of the radio nuclides that are buried in the crater is they, they just they just simply don't know. And that uncertainty means that they also don't know what the what form some of those radio nuclides take, and that means they don't understand whether they will be mobile in the ecological environment or not. So are they in a form that will have strong biological and ecological? Effect or not. I mean these are there's just a lot that is actually a surprising amount, that's not known about this. Okay. So who's in charge of it, and what's being done to fix it? So who's in charge of it in nineteen eighty six the Marshall Islands in the US signed an agreement that in principle turned over responsibility for for this and many other things that were left over from the US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands kid of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. But the fact is that this is a small Republic, all of its funding, practically comes from US aid. The problem is caused by the US, and I have not yet seen anything to indicate the department of energy or any other US institution is taking active measures to clean this. That doesn't mean it's not happening, but I have not seen reports that it is. That is Gabrielle heck she's a professor of nuclear security in history at Stanford University.."