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On Friday, March 1, by Executive Order of President Christopher J. Loeak, the flag of the Republic of the Marshall Islands will be flown at half-mast to coincide with the 2013 Nuclear Memorial and Survivors Remembrance Day. The RMI President’s Nuclear Remembrance Day Message follows:
I renew to you greetings of Yokwe on behalf of the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on this, the 59th Anniversary of the Bravo Shot, a day that has and will continue to remain in infamy in the hearts and minds of every Marshallese now and in the future.
At the 29th Annual Evening for Peace held at La Pacifica Ballroom and Terrace (Coral Casino) of the Four Seasons Resort, Minister in Assistance to the President and Kwajalein Atoll Senator, Tony A. de Brum, was awarded the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation 2012 Distinguished Peace Leadership Award. The prestigious peace award was presented to Minister de Brum in recognition of his tireless work for peace and justice on behalf of the Marshallese people. He and his fellow Marshall Islanders continue to seek a peaceful world, free of nuclear weapons.
It is with profound gratitude and humility that I receive this coveted Distinguished Peace Leadership Award 2012. I wish to thank Nuclear Age Peace Foundation for the great honor.
I am aware that in receiving this award, I am following in the footsteps of some of the most gallant and respected notables of our century - among them, His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the late King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan, Jacque Cousteau, Walter Kronkite and many other distinguished champions of peace.
I am truly humbled to be following the lead of such exceptional human beings. With their contributions to world peace and harmony they have touched and influenced many of us gathered this evening and impacted the lives of many more around the world.
My life was deeply traumatized by the nuclear legacy of the United States in the Marshall Islands. My public career has been shaped by the nuclear insult to my country and the Marshallese people. I have endeavored to make my modest contribution to peace by bringing their story to the world through all opportunities available to me.
A United Nations Special Rapporteur presented his report on the Marshall Islands nuclear legacy today during the UN Human Rights Commission's 21st regular session. Calin Georgescu, who spoke on the extractive industries as they related to the management of hazardous substances and the resultant impact on human rights, also made his mission report focusing on the impact on human rights of the nuclear testing programme on the Marshall Islands by the United States. In response, the Marshall Islands, several other Pacific nations, and non-profits spoke out on the issue.
- UN VIDEO: Calin Georgescu, Special Rapporteur, Marshall Islands Mission Report
- UN VIDEO: Phillip Muller Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Marshall Islands
- REPORT: Mission to the Marshall Islands (27-30 March 2012) and US ((24-27 April 2012)
- COMMENTS: Marshall Islands on the report of the Special Rapporteur
United Nations Special Rapporteur Calin Georgescu will visit the United States of America from April 25 to 27 as a follow-up visit to his recent country mission to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, to assess the impact on human rights of the nuclear tests conducted by the United States of America between 1946 and 1958.
“In Washington I will continue assessment of the efforts undertaken by the governments of the United States and the Marshall Islands to eliminate or mitigate the negative effects of the testing on the Marshallese,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights obligations related to environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste.
A delegation from Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands was in Washington, DC for four days this past week to meet with various U.S. government officials regarding resettlement and financial issues related to Bikini Atoll. The delegation, led by Bikini Mayor Nishma Jamore and Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda and also included Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal, met with U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, who is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee , and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is the ranking Republican of the same committee, to discuss the status of the resettlement of the people of Bikini.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Calin Georgescu warned Friday that the communities affected by nuclear testing over sixty years ago in the Marshall Islands are “yet to find durable solutions to the dislocation to their indigenous ways of life.” Mr. Georgescu also urged the country’s government, as well as the United States of America and the international community, to find effective redress to the affected population.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Calin Georgescu will visit the Marshall Islands from 26 to 30 March 2012 to assess the impact on human rights of the nuclear tests conducted by the United States between 1946 and 1958, in what is the first ever visit to the country by an independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council.
“I will assess the efforts undertaken by the governments of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and of the United States of America to eliminate or mitigate the negative effects of the testing on the Marshallese population,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights obligations related to environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste.
We, the Marshallese, and our islands are considered “small.” But, at the same time, with our ocean and our remoteness we are resilient people. We, who were knowledgeable in our ways, were at the same time naïve and became pawns on the chess board of great world powers for centuries. Can we ever be players and leaders and be the navigators of our destiny?
My name is Charles Takao Domnick and I stand before you as a member of the Council of Utrik Atoll – an atoll where innocent people were exposed to the nuclear fallout from the US Nuclear Weapons research program. We, the Utrikese, are one of those people labeled as “savages” better yet “nuclear savages.” I myself am one of those who, while a boy of 12 years in Likiep, saw the bright light which was followed by a deafening thunder and a major tremor over 400 miles from Ground Zero.
In observance of the 58th anniversary of the Bravo Shot and the 2012 Nuclear Survivors Remembrance Day, many gathered at the International Conference Center today to commemorate and honor the victims and survivors of the nuclear tragedy. The Parliament (Nitijela) had set aside March 1st as Nuclear Survivors Remembrance Day, a significant day in the history of the Marshall Islands where the legacy of the nuclear radiation continues to affect the lives of many.
Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a team of American Indian scientists and engineers have partnered to study the possible use of Black Earth technology, or Cpryo, to help mitigate the uptake of radiocesium in locally grown foods in the Marshall Islands.
After World War II, the United States conducted 66 nuclear detonations between 1946 and 1958, on once-pristine inhabited atolls of Bikini and Enewetak in the northern Marshall Islands.
When the dangerous dust and gases settle and we discover just how much radiation escaped the damaged Fukushima reactors and spent fuel rods, we may never know how many people are being exposed to radiation from the burning fuel rods and reactor cores, and how much exposure they will receive over time. Minute and above-background traces of Iodine-131 are already showing up in Tokyo's water supply - 150 miles southwest of the leaking reactors - and in milk and spinach [with a dash of Cesium-137] from 75 miles away.
Today, Sunday, August 29, 2010, marks the first observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. The Day is meant to galvanize the efforts of the United Nations, Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, youth networks and media in informing, educating and advocating the necessity of banning nuclear tests to achieve a safer world.
- UN: International Day Against Nuclear Tests - In the five decades between 1945 and 1996, over 2,000 nuclear tests were carried out all over the world.
- General Overview of the Effects of Nuclear Testing - The main man-made contribution to the exposure of the world's population [to radiation] has come from the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere.
- VIDEO: International Day Against Nuclear Testing, CTBTO -The history of nuclear testing from 1945 onwards and the need for the Treaty (CTBT) that bans all nuclear explosions to enter into force.
- Bikini flora and fauna? - Bikini Atoll Liaison speaks to error in CTBTO spokesperson's statement
- Reply from CTBTO Spokesperson - Dr. Annika Thunborg, to Bikini Atoll Liaison, clarifies statement
RESPONSES Regarding CTBTO Statement:
LIVERMORE scientists are at the forefront of an extensive 30-year effort to return the native population of Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands to their home island. The population was displaced to a neighboring atoll following radioactive fallout from a U.S. nuclear test detonated in 1954 on Bikini Atoll, approximately 112 kilometers west of Rongelap. In 1957, the U.S. government resettled the islanders back on Rongelap. However, in 1985, they relocated to Mejetto Island on Kwajalein Atoll because of the community’s concerns about lingering radioactive contamination and its potential health effects.
Today the Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The Bikini Atoll was the site of atomic weapons testing during the period predating Cold War. Between 1946 and 1954, 67 nuclear tests were carried out in the Marshall Islands, 23 of them in Bikini. This equates 7000 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb.
Projected Lifetime Cancer Risks from Exposure to Regional Radioactive Fallout in the Marshall Islands
Radioactive fallout from nuclear test detonations during 1946–1958 at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls in the Marshall Islands (MI) exposed populations living elsewhere in the MI archipelago.
A comprehensive analysis, presented in seven companion papers, has produced estimates of tissue specific radiation absorbed dose to MI residents at all historically inhabited atolls from internal (ingested) and external irradiation resulting from exposure to radioactive fallout, by calendar year, and by age of the population at time of exposure.
- PAPER: Projected Lifetime Cancer Risks from Exposure to Regional Radioactive Fallout in the Marshall Islands — Charles E. Land, André Bouville, Iulian Apostoaei, and Steven L. Simon, Health Physics, August 2010
NCI Dose Estimation and Predicted Cancer Risk for Residents of the Marshall Islands Exposed to Radioactive Fallout
Between 1946 and 1958 the United States tested 66 nuclear weapons on or near Bikini and Enewetak atolls, which had previously been evacuated. Populations living elsewhere in the Marshall Islands archipelago were exposed to measurable levels of radioactive fallout from 20 of these tests.
In this carefully considered analysis, National Cancer Institute (NCI) experts estimate that as much as 1.6% of all cancers among those residents of the Marshall Islands alive between 1948 and 1970 might be attributable to radiation exposures resulting from nuclear testing fallout. Due to uncertainly inherent to these analyses, the authors calculated a 90% confidence interval of 0.4% to 3.6%.
Why did the NCI investigate this exposure?
The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, chaired by Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-AS), heard testimony from representatives of the Marshall Islands on the on-going impact of U.S. nuclear testing in the Islands during the Cold War. The medical treatment of the Marshallese people, the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, and resettlement were issues discussed at Thursdays's afternoon hearing. Statements from four of the eleven Marshall Islands witnesses follow:
- MAY 20, 2010 HEARING:
- Statement of Minister Jack Ading on Behalf of the Enewetak People
- Statement of Jonathan M. Weisgall on Behalf of the Peoples of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrok
- Testimony of Neal A. Palafox, MD, MPH
- Written Testimony of Bill Graham Public Advocate (retired), Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal
Testimony on Marshall Islands Supplemental Nuclear Compensation Act: RMI Minister of Foreign Affairs John Silk
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. His Excellency President Jurelang Zedkaia once again takes this opportunity to personally thank you Chairman Bingaman for introducing S. 2941, the Republic of the Marshall Islands Supplemental Nuclear Compensation Act of 2010, and for convening this hearing so that we may present our views on this most important and historic legislation.
I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize other members of our delegation present here today, and to thank them for their presence and contributions.
The U.S. has not met its obligation to provide for ongoing health needs of the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands resulting from radiation exposures they received during U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific from 1946–1958, according to U.S. government panel report published online this week.
The annual report of the President's Cancer Panel, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk," pointed to the toxic legacy of military operations in the United States and beyond its borders, including chemical and radiation contamination.
In the Marshall Islands, the total yield of the 67 nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. during the Cold War era, was "equal to 7,200 Hiroshima bombs, or the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima bombs per day for 12 years."
The Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear any new cases, including the petition of the people of Bikini Atoll and Enewetak Atoll to review the lower court rejection of appeals to their case. No reason for denying review of that or any other case turned aside Monday was given.
On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:
Bikinians who reside in the United States have not forgotten their homeland. In communities across the U.S. mainland, and Hawaii, they held ceremonies to commemorate 64th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear testing program that took place in their homeland. Although the official day is March 1, many Bikinian communities held ceremonies on the following weekend to accommodate all the events. Marshallese and friends in the States were invited to Springdale, Arkansas where one of the largest event was sponsored by the Bikinian community residing in the area.
Glenn Alcalay, a former Peace Corps volunteer on Utrik in the Marshall Islands, now an adjunct professor of anthropology at Montclair State University in New Jersey, has studied the impact of U.S. Cold War nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. In the following article, he relates the story of the BRAVO H-bomb test and its aftermath:
John Anjain, then-mayor of Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands, told me in 1981 how a man working with the Atomic Energy Commission in February 1954 stuck out the tip of his index finger - about a half-inch - and said, "John, your life is about that long."
The Marshall Islands has ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), becoming the 151st country to do so.
The ratification of the CTBT by the Marshall Islands is highly symbolic. A total of 67 atmospheric nuclear tests were conducted by the United States at the Bikini and Enewetak Atolls between 1946 and 1958.
The Brookhaven National Lab's (BNL) 43-year study of Marshallese exposed during US nuke testing is detailed in the Newsday series, Fallout: The legacy of Brookhaven Lab's mission in the Marshall Islands. In the following account, written at request of Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism and showcased on its website, reporter Thomas Maier describes how the three-year multi-media project developed and what impact it is making today:
For a long time, I’ve wanted to produce a newspaper investigative project with an accompanying full-fledged video documentary – a marriage of traditional hard-hitting reporting with narrative-style television journalism. The story of Brookhaven National Lab’s troubled history in the Marshall Islands – told in a nine-part 32-minute documentary and a 5,000-word Sunday magazine piece with on-line sidebars – provided a challenge to do just that.