The history of nuclear testing is filled with both awe-inspiring scientific breakthroughs and sobering lessons on the effects of such tests on human health. One of the most famous locations of these tests, both in size and environmental impact, is Bikini Atoll. You can find out more here about the history of Bikini Atoll testing and the impact it had on the local population, the military personnel involved, and the environment.
A Brief History of Nuclear Testing at Bikini Atoll
The devastating power of the atomic bomb was displayed for the first time in 1945, in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. With this unparalleled force in mind, the United States continued to pursue nuclear weapons technology advancements through a series of tests at Bikini Atoll.
Located in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, Bikini Atoll was chosen by the United States as a site for nuclear tests in the years following World War II. There were more than 100 indigenous people living on Bikini Atoll at the time who were moved to other islands, predominantly Rongerik located approximately 200km east of Bikini Atoll, to allow nuclear testing to begin.
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted 23 nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll, with the first test series, known as Operation Crossroads, occurring in 1946. This was an extensive military-scientific experiment to establish the impact of atomic bombs on naval vessels. During the period of nuclear testing, devices were detonated at various places, including on the reef itself, on the sea, in the air, and underwater.
The Atomic Veterans
While these tests took their toll on the local environment, they also had significant human impact, primarily on the military personnel involved in conducting, supporting, and observing the nuclear tests. These servicemen came from various countries, including the United States, Britain, and Australia, earning them the collective name– Atomic Veterans. Those also affected were various military personnel and civilian contractors involved in the post-test cleanup mission who were recruited specifically to deal with the atomic debris–known as the Atomic Cleanup Veterans.
To this day, countless stories have been told about these individuals and the consequences they faced stemming from their exposure to radiation.Many Atomic Veterans have suffered from a variety of health problems, including cancer and other radiation-related illnesses. Though they were instrumental in the development of modern warfare technologies and tactics, these soldiers often paid a heavy price for their role in this chapter of history.
A Long-Lasting Impact on the Environment
The nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll profoundly and irrevocably altered the Atoll’s environment. The blasts, including the massive Castle Bravo test in 1954, spread radioactive fallout over vast distances, contaminating the waters and producing a host of environmental hazards.
In 1963, the United States, along with the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, resulting in a halt to nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space. Yet, despite this achievement, the environmental consequences of the Bikini Atoll tests persist to this day.
To date, Bikini Atoll and many of the surrounding Atoll islands are still uninhabitable, with dangerously high levels of radioactive contamination. A 2017 study found that radiation levels on Bikini Atoll surpassed those of Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Despite it being over half a century ago that Bikini Atoll and its people fell victim to nuclear testing, the consequences are still being felt in the present day. The bombings may have significantly advanced our understanding of nuclear weapons development, but they remain ingrained in historical memory as a haunting reminder of the destructive potential that comes with advancing such powerful technology.
Compensating Those Affected by Nuclear Testing at Bikini Atoll
In 1988, Congress passed a bill to compensate atomic veterans (and their families) who subsequently acquired a covered cancer (including lung, bone, and skin cancers) as a result of exposure to radiation. Following this, the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments was established in 1994. The U.S. government continues to compensate survivors, their families, and former residents.
Bikini Atoll Testing Compensation Program
The Atomic Veterans Cancer Benefit Program is intended to provide $75,000 for each claimant (including eligible survivors, such as spouses, children, and grandchildren) who was among the military personnel physically present during atmospheric nuclear testing conducted in Bikini Atoll and Enewetak Atoll between 1946 and 1958 and who acquired a covered cancer.
If you or a loved one are among those veterans exposed to radiation due to nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll and were subsequently diagnosed with cancer or related illness, call the National Cancer Benefits Center today. We’ve been helping people collect their compensation for cancer caused by government-created radiation for almost 30 years.
Our team understands the complexities in completing the claims process and can guide you through it to help you get the financial compensation you’re entitled to. For more information, call us today at (800) 414-4328 or use our request for more information form.