For the second time in thirty-two years, the islanders on Bikini Atoll have been evacuated amid fears that radiation levels there are still to high.
For the second time in thirty-two years, the islanders on Bikini Atoll have been evacuated amid fears that radiation levels there are still to high. The atoll was used for United States nuclear bombs tests, and even 20 years after the most recent of twenty-one atomic blasts, the islanders are still absorbing large amounts of radiation. But some of them resisted the move.
SYNOPSIS: About one-hundred and-forty islanders and their belongings were loaded aboard a Trust Territory Government ship, but some of them headed for their new homes on Kili Island with regret. There had been a day of sensitive negotiations between he islanders and the High Commissioner for the American Pacific Territory, Mr. Adrian Winkel. As the ship dropped anchor at Kili, some of the second-time evacuees vowed to return to Bikini. Their new environment was pleasant enough but it was not home.
The welcome sign has not dispelled the sometimes unfavourable reputation of Kili. A United States teacher here, Mr. Ralph Waltz, says he lost forty pounds (18.14 kilograms) one winter when six months passed without a visit from a supply ship. Reuters reports that many islanders refer to Kili as "The Prison". A Bikini elder, Mr. Andrew Jakeo, at first refused to accept his nw home. He said Bikini was his home, his freedom, his happiness. But he and the other islanders were persuaded not to remain.
Bikini islander traditionally make their living from the lagoon and the surrounding islands at Bikini. Kili lacks a lagoon, and heavy seas make it inaccessible for periods during winter.
Some resistance softened when High Commissioner Winkel brought news that Kili would be merely a temporary relocation site. Twenty-eight wooden tin-roofed houses have been built, as well as a dispensary and a school. A dock will be built soon as part of a fifteen million dollar relocation programme. In 1968, United States scientists had told them their homeland was safe to return to after ten years without blasts.
For youngsters, this is their first move. Their elders remember 1946 when they faced near-starvation after they were forced to move away so the bomb tests could proceed. they went first to Rongerik Atoll, then, in 1948, to Kili.
The Bikinians eventually want to return to Enui Island in their atoll -- scientists think it is safe. Failing that, they have asked for land in Hawaii, or on the United States mainland.