Runit captures global concern

The Runit Dome in Enewetak Atoll houses over 100,000 cubic yards of radioactive material from the 43 nuclear weapons tests conducted at the atoll from 1948 to 1958.


After decades of no one outside the Marshall Islands paying attention to the nuclear waste storage facility known as the Runit Dome, it is increasingly in the international spotlight with attention like never before.

Following UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ comments of concern last month about possible leakage of radioactivity from the Runit Dome into surrounding waters, global media coverage of the nuclear weapons test legacy and the Runit Dome exploded with numerous news agencies and the Los Angeles Times publishing articles about the dome.
Last week, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor used a visit to Pohnpei to meet new FSM President David Panuelo to talk about the Runit Dome. She called for an independent study to determine if the dome is leaking. “What is lacking is independent verification,” Taylor said. “Which frightens people.”

Taylor’s comments were followed by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) successfully adding an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House Armed Services Committee last week, that would require the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Defense to provide an unclassified public report on the current state of the Runit Dome nuclear waste facility.
“The Runit Dome, locally called The Tomb, contains 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive nuclear waste created by US nuclear testing during the Cold War,” said Gabbard. “The Marshallese people are gravely concerned about environmental threats to the integrity of the storage site and the impact on their country. The US government is responsible for this storage site and must ensure the protection of the people and our environment from the toxic waste stored there.”

Read more about this in the June 28, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.