History of Enewetak Atoll
United States conducted 43 nuclear tests from 1948 through 1958.
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After the end of World War II, Enewetak came under the control of the United States as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, until the independence of the Marshall Islands in 1986. During its tenure, the United States evacuated the residents many times, often involuntarily. The atoll was used for nuclear testing, as part of the Pacific Proving Grounds.
Enewetak Atoll: Nuclear Testing Site
Before testing commenced, the U.S. exhumed the bodies of United States servicemen killed in the Battle of Enewetak and returned them to the United States to be re-buried by their families. 43 nuclear tests were fired at Enewetak from 1948 to 1958.
The first hydrogen bomb test, code-named Ivy Mike, occurred in late 1952 as part of Operation Ivy; it vaporized the islet of Elugelab. This test included B-17 Flying Fortress drones to fly through the radioactive cloud to test onboard samples.
A radiological survey of Enewetak was conducted from 1972 to 1973. In 1977, the United States military began decontamination of Enewetak and other islands. During the three-year, US$100 million cleanup process, the military mixed more than 80,000 cubic meters (100,000 cubic yards) of contaminated soil and debris from the islands with Portland cement and buried it in an atomic blast crater on the northern end of the atoll's Runit Island. The material was placed in the 9.1-meter (30 foot) deep, 110-meter (360 foot) wide crater created by the May 5, 1958, "Cactus" nuclear weapons test. A dome composed of 358 concrete panels, each 46 centimeters (18 inches) thick, was constructed over the material.
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