On the tiny pacific Ocean atoll of Enewetak, the United States has begun a major cleanup programme to rid the islands of radioactive waste, caused by ten years of nuclear testing.
CU SIGN: "Welcome to Enewetak International Airport'.
SV: U.S. personnel leaving aircraft (2 shots)
GV: Runit Island shoreline aircraft and debris littering coast.
SV: Captain Charles Day testing debris for radiation.
SV: radiation warning sign
SV: American team inspecting Cactus Carter.
CU: radiation sign and Captain Day testing for radiation on beach debris.
SV: supply ship enroute to Lojwa Island. (2 shots)
SV: heavy trucks arriving at crater site.
GV: bulldozer and cement truck pouring concrete at Lojwa base site (3 shots)
SV: surveyor and team preparing cement cap (3 shots)
Enewetak Atoll is located in the northwestern corner of the Marshall Islands. It encompasses 388 square miles (1000 sq km) of lagon surrounded by 40 small islands, which ring the lip of an undersea volcano. The US took the atoll from Japanese in fighting during World War Two. After the war, the American established scientific and military bases on Enewetak and began a 10 year nuclear test programme. More than 8,000 soldiers, scientist and technicians lived on the atoll before it was finally abandoned after the 1958 pact with the soviet Union banning atmospheric nuclear explosions.
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Background: On the tiny pacific Ocean atoll of Enewetak, the United States has begun a major cleanup programme to rid the islands of radioactive waste, caused by ten years of nuclear testing. The United States used the atoll, which forms part of the Marshall Islands, as a test range for 43 nuclear devices between 1948 and 1958. Severe ecological damage resulted on many islands. Now the U.S. government wants to restore the atoll so that its original inhabitants, who were evacuated before the tests, can return.
SYNOPSIS: About the only people to have been welcomed at Enewetak International Airport recently were the 500 men from the American 84th Engineer Battalion from Hawaii, who've been given the responsibility of cleaning the atoll up.
Worst affected is Runit Island, which bore the brunt of 19 nuclear explosions. Although deceptively tranquil, the island is still a wasteland of radioactive debris and soil. Captain Charles Day, one of the task force leaders, is busy with his colleagues testing the degree of remaining radioactivity on the island. To make the islands in the atoll safe, more than two hundred thousand tons (tonnes) of contaminated soil will have to be stripped along with thousand of tons(tonnes) of metal debris.
As a fitting resting place, the material will be carted off to Cactus Crater, itself borne of a buried and sealed with an eighteen inch (45cm) thick concrete cap, to prevent any of the material from re-contaminating the area. The cleanup is expected to take two years to complete. Then the US authorities will begin reforesting. But the 500 islanders who'll be returned say the intensive facelift is little compensation. As Roger Bray, the project manager says, the atoll will just never be the same again.