History of Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll is a coral island in the Pacific Ocean, consisting of a ring-shaped reef surrounding a 25-mile by 15-mile oval lagoon. The atoll includes 23 small coral islands within its reef.
The atoll is part of the Marshall Islands, which is an island chain located between Hawaii and the Philippines. The United States government took administrative control of the Marshall Islands from Japan in 1944, and retained control until 1986, when the islands gained their independence. Today, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is a sovereign nation in free association with the United States.
Bikini Atoll History: Nuclear Test Site
While the Marshall Islands were officially under the purview of the U.S., the area became known as the Pacific Proving Grounds due to the nuclear testing conducted at various sites in the islands between the mid-1940s and early 1960s.
Bomb testing in the islands began in 1946, just after World War II ended and as the U.S. was on the cusp of what would later be dubbed the Cold War with the Soviet Union (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or U.S.S.R.). The use of atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki did more than end World War II – it inspired the burgeoning nuclear arms race.
The U.S. tested more than 20 nuclear devices at Bikini Atoll and nearby Enewetak Atoll.
Residual radioactivity remains today at Bikini Atoll.
As a part of the Compact of Free Association with the Marshall Islands, the U.S. government has agreed to resolve personal illness claims arising from its nuclear testing in the area. As a result of this, a federal program has been established by Congress that seeks to compensate veterans who participated in atmospheric nuclear testing conducted on Bikini Atoll or Enewetak Atoll between 1946 and 1958.
A Toxic Timebomb?
Massive quantities of radioactive waste are buried under a concrete dome in the Marshall Islands. They are the toxic remains of U.S.-led nuclear testing conducted in the 1950s and 1960s.
Take a stunning Google Earth tour of nuclear bomb craters in U.S.
Using Google Earth, this video illustrates the damage caused by the atmospheric nuclear tests of the 1940s-1960s in the Pacific.
Radio Bikini, a 1988 documentary by filmmaker Robert Stone, begins with a radio broadcast from Bikini Atoll before the nuclear bomb blasts and tells the story of servicemen exposed to radioactive fallout.
The Atomic Cafe
Watch the 1982 cult classic documentary, The Atomic Cafe, a disturbing portrait of nuclear warfare in the 20th century.
Bikini Atoll Nuclear Tests Documentary – 1949
Footage from Operation Crossroads in 1946, which included testing the effects of nuclear bombs on animals on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. This documentary was produced by the U.S. Department of the Navy.
Bikini Underwater Atomic Explosion Aftermath - 1946
More filmed footage from Operation Crossroads in the Marshall Islands in 1946. This time, you see the aftermath of the underwater atomic testing in this short, < 3-minute clip.
Want to find out more about Bikini Atoll and Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands? Call the National Cancer Benefits Center today at (800) 414-4328 or use our request for more information form.