published by WISE News Communique on June 21, 1996
February - US forces capture Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, from the japanese. Americans recruit Marshallese living on outer islands of Kwajalein lagoon as labours in support of war effort.
July 16 - at 5:29 am, Trinity, the forst test of an atomic bomb, takes place at Alomogordo, New Mexico, US.
August - on the 6th, US drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It is estimated by Japanese that 140,000 died by december, 1945, as a result of the bomb. Three days later the second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki. About 70,000 died by december, 1945, as a result of the bomb. On the 10th Japan surenders to the US: The end of World War II.
November - American military and political leaders begin planning nuclear experiments for further development of nuclear weapons. Two tests, codename Operation Crossroads, planned to test effects of atomic explosions on naval vessels. Search begun for an appropriate site.
January - Navy officials in Washington, D.C. announce that Bikini atoll, in the Marshall islands, fulfills all climatic and geographical requirements for Operation Crossroads.
February 10 - Bikinis first relocation accomplished swiftly and with little planning. Military governour of the Marshalls obtains consent of Bikini's paramount chief for the relocation, informing that the scientists were experimenting with nuclear devices "... for the good of mankind and to end all world wars." After deliberation, the Bikini's consent to move, but have no real alternative other than submission to US plans.
March 7 - 166 Bikinians move from Bikini to unhabited Rongerik Atoll, almost 100 miles east, whose 17 islands barely contained one-half square mile of dry land. Already two month later they express anxiety over the resources and make the first of many requests to return home.
June - Operation Crossroads begins at Bikini Atoll. It includes two atomic bomb blasts - Able (june 30) and Baker (july 24). About 250 ships, more than 150 aircraft for transport and observation, and 40,000 military, scientific and technical personnel are eventually involved in Operation Crossroads.
December - Bikinians situation on Rongerik worsens. Food shortages occur during the winter month of 1946/47.
June - Military govanor appoints investigation board to look into Bikinians plight. In meeting with the people, they report that there is insufficiant food, the store is bankrupt, fresh water supplies are low, and the atoll has only one brackfish well. The Bikinians suggest Kili Atoll as a possible relocation site.
|I hate living on Ebeye, it's a terrible life here. I'd much rather be living on Mejato with my family. But I've been so ill and now the doctors can't find what's wrong with me - they tell me I have to live here to be near a hospital and so I can get a flight to Honululu if I need to quickly. I hope to move away one day but right now I don't dare. I'm afraid.
Lijon Eknilang from Rongelap. She had seven miscarriages and suffers from a thyroid tumor.
July - The Marshall Islands, along with the Caroline and Mariana Islands, formerly under a League of Nations mandate to the Japanese, become the United States Trust territory of the Pacific unter the United Nations. Military gouvernment ends, but Navy given authority for the new administartion until it can be transferes to a civil agency.
The situation on Rongerik further deteriorates. A medical officer, after visiting Rongerik, reports the the Bikinians were "visibly suffering from malnutrition."
October 17 - Navy officials announce the Bikinians will be moved to Ujelang, the western-most atoll in the Marshalls.
November 22 - Ten Bikinians and twenty Seabees go to Ujelang to begin construction of a new village.
December - On 2nd Washinton officials announce that Enewetak Atoll is to be used for a second series of nuclear tests, and that its inhabitants must be moved immidiatly. On 21st the people of Enewetak are quickly relocated to Ujelang Atoll, which has only one fourth the land area of Enewetak, and has a much smaller lagoon - 25 square miles compared to Enewetaks 390 square miles.
Bikinians remain an Rongerik Atoll, despite having build housing at Ujelang.
January - The high commiciner of the trust territory requests an independent survey of the Rongerik situation by University of Hawaii anthropoligist Dr. Leonard Mason.
February 4 - A medical officer an food are flown to ronegik. After their examination, the doctor states their condition to be that of starving people.
March 14 - Bikinis are evacuated from Rongerik and are sent to a temporary camp on Kwajalein. The Rongerik resettlement lasted two years and one week.
April - Operation Sandstone begins on Enewetak. This series includes 3 atomic tests, on april 14, april 30 and may 14.
Search begins for alternative resettlement sites for the Bikinians. One June 1, they vote two to one in favor for Kili Atoll, uninhabited former Japanese copra plantation, over Wotje Atoll, inhabited and controlled by former paramount chief.
September - Advance party of 24 Bikini men and eight Seabees arrive on Kili and begin construction of a new village.
November 2 - The total Bikini community arrives on Kili. The disadvantages of the island include a lack of a lagoon and protected anchorage, and the heavy winter surf which isolates and halts offshore fishing from november to late spring. Kili has advantages of good agriculturesoil and stands of quality coconut trees for copra export.
April - Operation Greenhouse begins at Enewetak; this series includes 4 atomic tests: on April 7 & 20, May 8 and 24.
January - The 40 foot ship provided for the Bikinians by the administration washes into Kili reef by the heavy surf and sinks with a full load of copra. (Because of rough seas and a shortage of vessels, food supplies on Kili run critically low on more than one occasion from 1951 to 1953. At one point the situation becomes so critical that an air drop of emergancy rations is required).
January - The Marshallese labour camp on Kwajalein (about 500 people) is relocated to the island of Ebeye, 3 three miles away.
July 1 - The Navy administration of the Trust territory is replaced by the US-Departement of the Interior.
Operation Ivy begins at Enewetak, includig the first thermo-nuclear bomb test, Mike (October 31) estimated at 10.4 megatons and King (November 15), a "high yield" atomic test. "Mike" blast vaporizes Elugelap Island, and leaves a crater one mile in diameter and 175 feet deep in the coral reef. The mushroom cloud rises to 130,000 feet in just 15 minutes.
The population on the island of Ebeye, a 66 acre island less than a mile long and 650 feet wide, grows to 1000 people as the Kwajalein base offers employment for 220 Marshallese.
February - The US gouvernment informs the chief of rongelap that a hydrogen bomb test is going to be carried out soon, but does not inform him of any precautionary measures to take.
March - Operation castle begins at Bikini and Enewetak with six atomic tests. The series includes Bravo, largest thermonuclear bomb at 15 megatons, and five other blasts, all in the high yield range, 100 kilotons and above.
March 1 - "Bravo" exploded at Bikini at 6:45 am. Despite an incomplete and somewhat alarming report concerning the winds above Bikini, the decision is made t proceed with the test. Winds from sea level to 55,000 feet were generally heading east or northeast, in the direction of Rongelap, Rongerik and Utirik, all inhabited atolls.
The Bravo detonation creates a blinding flash of light followed by a fireball that shoots upward at the rate of 300 miles an hour. Within 10 minutes the giant nuclear cloud reaches more than 100,000 feet (21.6 miles). Winds several hundred miles per hour at the center an 70 to 100 miles an hour at the blast's edge rock the placid lagoon like a full scale typhoon.
Joint task force Seven ships are located in monitoring positions about 30 miles from the blast, in what was expected to be an upwind position. Within minutes after the explosion, Radiation Safety (RadSafe) personel see the unexpected movement of the cloud, and the ships begin to record a steady increase in radiation levels. All personnel are ordered below decks, and hatches and watertight doors are sealed. The ships proceed due south away from the danger zone.
Approximately one and a half hous after the blast, a "gritty, white ash" begins to fall on the 22 fisherman aboard the Japanese fishing vessel "Lucky Dragon", which was in the waters near Bikini. The fishermen were unaware that the ash was fallout from a nuclear test. In three days they begin to experience the affects of acute radiation exposure: itching of the skin, nausea, and vomiting. Two weeks after their exposure, they arrive in Japan. Within two years the Japanese gouvernment recieves $2 million in compensation from the US for the Lucky Dragon's exposure.
Radsafe personnel stationed on Rongerik increase observations following news of the nuclear cloud's erratic behavior. Approximately 7 hours after detonation, radiation exceeds monitoring instrument's maximum scale of 100 milirads per hour. taking strict radiation precautions, all personnel put on extra clothing and remain inside tightly shut building. Within 34 hours after the "Bravo" explosion, all personnel put on extra clothing and remain inside tightly shut building. Within 34 hours after the "Bravo" explosion, all 28 Americans are removed from Rongerik.
Four to six hours after the blast, a white, snow-like ash begins to fall on the people living on Rongelap and the 18 Rongelapese on Ailingnae, about 100 miles east of Bikini. The white dust soon forms a layer on the island an inch and a half thick. The fallout is also carried into the drinking water catchments. Later that day, personnel go to Rongelap, find the radiation levels dangerously high, and tell the people not to drink the water. They then leave to report their findings.
Unlike the Americans stationed on Rongerik, the People of Rongelap were not told of any precautionary measures to protect themselves from the fallout. About 24 hours after the Americas were evacuated from Rongerik, ships from the Seventh Fleet arrive at Rongelap and Ailingnae to remove the people. It has been more than two days since the people were initially exposed to the radioactive fallout.
Utirik Atoll, about 275 miles east of Bikini, is the last to experience the fallout from the "Bravo" blast. The Fallout beings about 22 hours after the test, and is described as "mist-like". The 157 islanders on Utirik are removed by the Navy three days and six hours after "Bravo".
March 5 - Many of the exposed people, having all been evacuated to Kwajalein, begin experiencing symptoms of acute radiation exposure: itching and burning of the skin, eyes and mouth, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. During the month, the second stage of radiation exposure begins to be felt: hair on the heads of many people wholly or partially falls out, the skin 'burns' begin appearing on the necks, shoulders, arms and feet of the more heavily exposed.
According to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) approximately 90% of the exposed Rongelap people suffer from skin lesions and loss of hair, beginning about two weeks after exposure.
The maximum permissible dose per week of radiation to the thyroid gland is set at 0.3 rems. According to the AEC, the exposed children on Rongelap received a dose of 500 to 1,400 rads to the thyroid gland, or 1000 to 2000 times more than the maximum permissible dose.
May - After initial examination, Rongelapese resettled on Ejit Island in Majuro Atoll, because high radiation levels on Rongelap prevent their return. They are examined by AEC medical teams in September, 1954, and in March 1955, 1956 and 1957.
Utirik people, receiving what AEC officials term "small" amounts of radioactive fallout from "Bravo" test (at 14 rads), return to Utirik from Kwajalein. AEC states "their island was only slightly contaminated and considered safe for habitation."
Operation Redwing begins at Enewetak and Bikini, and includes 13 atomic and hydrogen bomb tests. "Cherokee" blast listed as "several megatons."
September - Enewetakese, who had received NO compensation for use of their home atoll, are offered $25,000 in cash and a trust fund of $150,000 with semi-annual interest payments, by the U.S. government. The people, faced with difficult living conditions on Ulelang Atoll, accept offer.
November - Bikini people sign agreement giving the U.S. government "full use rights to Bikini Atoll until such time as it determines it will no longer be necessary to occupy and use the said Atoll." In return the Bikinians are given "full use rights" to Kili Island and several islands in Jaluit Atoll and $25,000 in cash and a $300,000 trust fund yielding semi-annual interest payments of $4,972.50 (approximately $15 per capita) - to be divided among the Bikinians living on Kili.
July - AEC radiological survey states that "in spite of slight lingering radioactivity" Rongelap Atoll is safe for habitation. People move back to Rongelap from Majuro Atoll, after three year exile. (In 1971 a Japanese medical survey team reported: "Our conclusion concerning the human test on the people of Rongelap is that it was a great mistake to permit the people of Rongelap to return to their island in July, 1957 without sufficient work having been done to remove radioactive pollution from the island.")
January - Typhoon Ophelia causes great destruction on Jaluit and other southern atolls. All Bikinians living on Jaluit have to move back to Kili as colony site becomes uninhabitable. Still births and miscarriages among exposed Rongelap women more than twice the rate of unexposed Marshallese women (for first four years only, following exposure in 1954). Operation Hardtack (Phase 1) begun at Enewetak and Bikini, largest and final test series conducted in the Marshalls. Series includes 29 nuclear tests, and two blasts of megaton strength near Johnston Island. Following Operation Hardtack, U.S. concludes nuclear testing program in the Marshalls, after more than 60 announced atomic and hydrogen bomb tests at Enewetak and Bikini. More than $2.5 billion spent during the testing program in the Marshalls, begun in 1946.
Kwajalein converted from Naval Air Station to part of the Army's new Pacific Missile Range.
During winter months, field trip vessels unable to provide adequate service to Kili Island; Bikinians face food shortages again.
Army's Pacific Missile Range at Kwajalein completed. Kwajalein lagoon becomes target for Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles fired from California. Because of increased job opportunities for Marshallese at the missile range, population on Ebeye continues to expand.
A report for the AEC by Dr. Robert Conard (of Brookhaven National Laboratory) shows that after the exposed people of Rongelap were returned to their island in July, 1957, their body burden of radioactivity rapidly increased. In 1961 it was recorded by the AEC that their body levels of radioactive cesium rose 60 fold, zinc rose 8-fold and strontium-90 rose 6-fold.
|Last month we had three suicides. Being the chief executive of Kwajalein Atoll Development Cooperation and the mayor of Ebeye and the one responsible for the wellbeing of these people, I'd rather they went to the US and learned some new things, learned how to be themselves, rather than stay here and commit suicide in my face. Once again someone comes to wake me at 2 a.m. to tell me there's been another suicide. [...] I would rather our young people went to fight a justified war on behalf of the US than fought against themselves here over a can of beer or bottle of rum.
Alvin Jacklick, 1987
Polio epidemic throughout the northern Marshall Islands, caused by a case in American population at Kwajalein. 196 cases of severe residual paralysis secondary to polio were recorded among the 18,000 inhabitants of the Marshalls, although polio vaccine had been discovered 8 years earlier. The attack rate in the U.S. is about one patient with severe residual paralysis per 1,000 infections of polio.
First thyroid tumors begin appearing among radiation-exposed Rongelap people - also, a higher than average level of growth retardation among young Rongelap children. A 99-year lease for Kwajalein Island (750 acres) signed by Kwajalein landowners, Army Command and Trust Territory. Lease provides compensation of $500 per acre for past use (since the end of WWII) and $500 per acre for future use. An additional payment of $40 per month is provided for each of the original 148 Mid-Corridor residents relocated by the Army to Ebeye in 1964. "Mid-Corridor" refers to central two-thirds of Kwajalein lagoon required by Army for its missile testing. (Marshallese Congressman Ataji Balos stated in 1976, "The people of Kwajalein do not recognize the validity of that lease. When it was negotiated, the Army promised to help the people of Ebeye with social and economic problems. So did the Trust Territory. That lease was signed on the basis of those promises. Those promises have not been kept.")
July - Congress of Micronesia, a territory wide legislative body modeled on the U.S. Congress, holds first session after being created by an executive order in 1964.
January - Ex gratia payment by U.S. government of about $950,000 for injuries resulting from radioactive fallout. ($10,800 per capita.) In a 1966 film entitled "Return to Bikini," the AEC says the island has returned "almost to normal" when in fact it is covered with thickly entangled scrub weeds, and debris from the nuclear testing program.
June - New England Journal of Medical Science reports that the death rate among Marshallese exposed to radiation was 13.0 per thousand compared with 8.3 for the Marshalls as a whole, in the 12 years following the "Bravo" test in 1954.
Enewetakese living on Ujelang Atoll nearly starve, when the few crops available are attacked by growing number of rats on the island.
Enewetak people living on Ujelang Atoll face starvation conditions. Supply ship arrives, but is short of goods - islanders board ship and refuse to leave, stating they wish to abandon Ujelang. Ataji Balos a government official (later a member of the Congress of Micronesia), agrees to stay on Ujelang with the people until a new supply ship returns with sufficient food. Ship returns within two weeks.
President Johnson promises 540 Bikinians, living on Kili and other islands, a permanent return to Bikini because radiation levels, according to the AEC, dropped below the danger level. Brookhaven National Laboratory (on contract to the AEC) medical team reports that all but two of the nineteen children on Rongelap who were less than ten years old when their island was subjected to radioactive fallout in 1954, have developed abnormal thyroid glands.
Bikini resettlement planned to extend over period of eight or more years to allow for maturation of newly planted crops. The AEC and Defense Department plan first phase of cleanup of radioactive debris on Bikini, while Trust Territory assumes responsibility for second phase of replanting the atoll, constructing houses and relocating the community.
October - Bikini cleanup phase finished. AEC, military personnel and equipment withdraw and weekly air service to Kwajalein terminated. Phase two of rehabilitation marked by serious logistics problems. Bikini declared safe for reoccupation. AEC states, "There's virtually no radiation left and we can find no discernable effect on either plant or animal life ".
October - Congressman Balos' and other Marshall Islanders' actions set in motion U.S. Congressional legislation to pay $1,020,000 to the Enewetak people to be phased in a trust fund. Medical survey by Dr. Robert Conard (Brookhaven) shows little difference in radioactivity levels among exposed and unexposed Rongelap people living on Rongelap. However, as late as 1969 the body radioactivity levels of previously unexposed Rongelap people was 10 times that of Marshallese living on Kili.
AEC conducts survey on Enewetak and finds that atoll radiation level has dropped enough to allow islanders to return if extensive cleanup of remaining radioactive debris is undertaken.
Bikini rehabilitation program proceeds at snail's pace; because of erratic shipping and no air service, supplies arrive late. Eventually replanting at Bikini and Enyu Islands completed.
September - Air Force Pacific Cratering Experiments (PACE) project begun on Enewetak. More than 220 tons of explosives brought to Enewetak for series of tests, aimed at simulating nuclear bomb blasts. Six tons actually detonated; 190 holes drilled into reefs and land for explosives; and 86 trenches (seven feet deep, 3 feet wide and 6 feet long) dug in different parts of the atoll.
December - Japanese medical survey team comes to Marshall Islands at request of Marshallese. Administration refuses medical team permission to travel to Rongelap and Utirik, in what administration terms conflict over credentials. Medical team stays on Majuro and meets with those exposed to radiation - their report states: "the team was welcomed by the islanders, who strongly desired our investigation work...."
January - Marshallese Congressman Ataji Balos accuses the U.S. of consciously allowing Marshallese people to be exposed to radioactive fallout in order to study the effect of radiation on human beings; states the Brookhaven medical team is using Rongelap people as guinea pigs and not giving them proper medical examinations and treatment.
Marshallese refuse to allow AEC doctors to examine them during annual AEC medical survey, until AEC agrees to include independent doctors on their team.
Bikinians living on Kili Island begin moving back to Bikini atoll.
February - Congress of Micronesia creates Special Joint Committee concerning Rongelap and Utirik Atolls to investigate the problems of the irradiated people living on those atolls.
April - Military ends use of Enewetak Atoll as support site for Pacific Missile Range at Kwajalein. Air Force quarantines Runit Island, site of several large nuclear tests, in Enewetak and denies access to anyone for any purpose. Radiation data suggests Runit will be unsafe for habitation for 240,000 years.
September - Conard medical team discovers two more Marshallese with thyroid abnormalities, one from Ailingnae and the other from Rongelap. To date, 18 out of 19 Rongelap people who were under 10 years old when exposed to radiation from "Bravo" in 1954, have had thyroid abnormalities. Enewetakese file suit in federal court in Hawaii to stop Air Force PACE project. Temporary injunction granted. In January 1973, federal judge orders program halted. U.S. Pentagon in June calls off the PACE tests in face of court action by Enewetakese.
October - AEC announces that coconut crabs on Bikini, considered a delicacy in the Marshalls, can be eaten on a restricted basis. (Even in 1978, they were still not safe for every day consumption.)
November - Lekoj Anjain, from Rongelap, one year old at the time of his exposure to radioactive fallout, dies of myelogenous leukemia, at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, U.S. (At age 13, he was taken to the U.S. for removal of thyroid nodules - his mother, father, and two brothers also had thyroid lesions surgically removed.)
December - U.S. begins separate negotiations with Mariana Islands towards that district becoming a U.S. commonwealth (commonwealth agreement signed in 1975, gains Congressional, then presidential approval in 1976. Key provision in agreement is military rights to two-thirds of Tinian Island, used in WWII to launch A-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for an air naval base).
February - Japanese medical survey team report following investigation trip to Marshalls in December, 1971 states: "...The body burden (of radiation) on the 'unexposed group' of Rongelap is actually higher than that on the people of other islands. This means that the people of Rongelap who were not exposed to the fallout, received a considerable amount of radioactive nuclides from the environment. Consequently, the 'unexposed' group actually became an 'exposed' group..." Ebeye population estimated at 5,260 people living on 53 available acres. Average of 10 persons per single room housing unit. Between 400-500 Marshallese employed at Kwajalein Missile Range (KMR).
(Waiting for the plane on Kwajalein) there was nowhere to go to but one of the restaurants. We went and sat down and tried to order a drink but the waiter asked for our passes and said we couldn't sit there. I don't see what they think we are going to do to them, three Marshallese women sitting in their restaurant. It's not like there's anything to spy on there. [...] When you go to Kwajalein you enter the terminal and they say Stop!, so everyone has to stop. Sit down! and we all sit down. You feel like everyone does what we're told, when to stop, when to sit, when to go. So that's democratic government.
U.S. spends $435,000 for Bikini cleanup program.
June - AEC reports that nearly 28% of the Marshallese exposed to radiation originally have developed thyroid nodules or tumors, in contrast to an average 3 or 4% among Americans. Brookhaven National Laboratory study states that of 68 persons irradiated on Rongelap, 29 have developed thyroid abnormalities and 24 have undergone surgery in the U.S. for removal of the tissue. The study also notes significant growth retardation among Rongelap children.
September - Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Enewetak released - states radioactivity in northern islands much greater than southern islands. Report suggests no habitation of northern islands, although islanders have stated a preference for these islands. EIS proposes using A-Bomb crater in Runit Island as "dump" for radioactive material removed from other islands, and covering it with a cement "cap."
December - 97 Bikinians now living on Bikini.
April - Enewetak Chief, Johannes Peter appeals to U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee to rid their atoll of radiation dangers, so the people can return home.
June - New radiological tests discover "higher levels of radioactivity than originally thought" on Bikini and it "appears to be hotter or questionable as to safety," states an Interior Department source.
August 6 - Data on local foods grown on Bikini island point to the need to restrict completely the use of pandanus, breadfruit, and coconut crabs, according to a preliminary report issued by the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA -formerly AEC). In addition, the report states that banana and papaya grown on Bikini are not recommended for consumption until they have been analyzed and declared acceptable.
October - Bikinians file law suit in Honolulu court, demanding complete scientific survey of Bikini to determine if it is fit for human life. Bikinians law suit maintains that U.S. government has refused to employ highly sophisticated technical equipment to measure radiation. Ebeye population estimated at 7,049 living in "deteriorating and substandard" housing units according to a Trust Territory study. Average of 12.3 persons per single room units.
December - For second year in a row, U.S. Congress refuses to approve funds to clean up radioactive debris on Enewetak for islanders to return home.
July - U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Territorial and Insular Affairs, holds hearing on Ebeye and Majuro. Calling the situation at Ebeye Island a "patent violation of basic human rights" the Subcommittee demands strong corrective action on the part of the Departments of Defense and Interior. U.S. Congress appropriates $20 million for Enewetak cleanup. In addition, military agrees to provide equipment and personnel for massive project, estimated to cost well above $50 million.
|On July 4th, 1976, only a matter of hours after Trust Territory Acting High Commissioner Peter Coleman had finished telling the United Nations Trusteeship Council there was no segregation at Kwajalein the command of Kwajalein Missile Range celebrated the American Blcentennial by closing Kwajalein Island to any Marshallese.... So American Independence was celebrated at Kwajalein Atoll by enforcement of all out and total segregation.
Congress of Micronesia Representative Ataji Balos, July, 1976
December - Washington Post exposes CIA surveillance of Micronesians during political status negotiations with the U.S. According to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Henry Kissinger authorized the ClA's "information collection" operations, which included electronic surveillance, as early as 1973. The Intelligence Committee report states that Kissinger granted permission for a study of "the possibility of exerting covert influence on key elements of the Micronesian independence movement" to "support U.S. strategic objectives."
December - Utirik islanders refuse to submit to examination by Dr. Knud Knudsen, during AEC's annual medical survey. Los Angeles Times points to "monumental culture clash" between the AEC scientists and the Marshallese underlying their refusal of medical examinations.
March - U.S. Congress approves $1,083,000 to compensate the Rongelap and Utirik islanders whose thyroid problems and cancers appeared since 1963. 56 Enewetak islanders, who had lived on Ujelang Atoll in a U.S.-imposed exile since 1948, return to Japtan Island in southern Enewetak Atoll (Japtan is 6 miles from Runit Island, off-limits and considered the most radioactive in the atoll).
June - Study prepared for ERDA states, "All living patterns involving Bikini Island exceed Federal (radiation) guidelines for 30-year population doses."
Sudden increase in thyroid disease and cancer among Utirik people, which did not become apparent until 22 years after their exposure in 1954, forces government scientists to revise theories on radiation safety levels for human beings.
Army plans to clean up from northern area of Enewetak an estimated 125,000 cubic yards of non-contaminated debris, 7,300 cubic yards of radioactive material and another 79,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with plutonium. The radioactive debris will be dumped into an A-bomb crater on Runit Island and sealed with a "cap" of cement. Besides plutonium, the radioactive contaminants at Enewetak are cesium 137, strontium 90 and cobalt 60. Army troops from Schofield Barracks in Hawaii begin arriving at Enewetak to carry out clean-up.
October - ERDA monitoring of Bikinians who returned in early 1970's shows an uptake in radioactive nuclides - "some of them are eating unapproved foods" high in cesium, according to ERDA scientist.
Following tests which show the Bikinians taking in higher than acceptable concentrations of cancer causing radiation from the water and food grown in the island's still radioactive soil, the U.S. government begins sending all food and drink to Bikini.
Interior Department officials confirm seven new thyroid cases over past 18 months in Rongelap and Utirik islanders exposed to fallout. Counting these, 33 of Rongelap's 82 inhabitants at the time of the fallout have developed thyroid problems. Of 21 Rongelap children under 12 years of age at the time of the explosion, 19 have had thyroid tumors or problems.
March 30 - Kwajalein landowners and supporters reclaim island in off limits "Mid-Corridor" area of Kwajalein lagoon to protest use by Army. Handel Dribo, a landowner on Kwajalein states, "for 12 years my land was used by the military. l have not received one penny." Army goes ahead with missile test while Marshallese occupy island in hazardous area.
April - A Trust Territory report reveals the dire overcrowding and public health hazards on Ebeye Island. T.T. report states that:
May - Medical examinations conducted in April suggest that 139 people on Bikini are well above over-all radiation "safety" levels set by U.S. Examinations show that people are being exposed to strontium-90 as well as external radiation from fallout material still on the ground.
Interior Department officials describe the 75% increase in radioactive cesium found in Bikinians living on Bikini as "incredible." Interior states plans to move residents to another island "within 75 to 90 days."
July - US Congress appropriates more than $1 million in compensation for the inhabitants of Rongelap and Utirik who were exposed to radiation in 1954. Each person who had the thyroid gland or neurofibroma in the neck surgically removed or who has developed hypothyroidism, will receive $25,000. A payment of $25,000 will also be made to anyone who develops a radiation-related malignancy, such as leukemia. All residents on Utirik on March 1, 1954 will be given $1,000.
August - Interior Department decides to return all Marshallese now on Bikini Atoll to Kili Island, owing to high radiation levels on all Bikini Islands, including Enyu.
From 1960 to 1979 there was an eight-fold increase in suicides among the Marshallese. The suicide rate among young Marshallese males is more than double that of the US.
July - More than 500 displaced people board a fleet of small boats and sail into the restricted lagoon of Kwajalein, heading for eight of their islands. The protest later spreads to other islands, including Kwajalein island itself, where the round of social events of the North American civilians are disrupted for the first time by the protesters.
September - The US signs a one-year Interim Use Agreement for Kwajalein worth $9 million a year. Five thousand landowners share $5 million and the remaining $4 million is entrusted to the Marshall Islands government for carrying out development programs.
April 9 - 450 inhabitants of the Enewetok island return after their evacuation over thirty years ago. 4,000 people work for three years to clean up the island - a clean-up which costs US$ 100 million. But the coconuts on Enewetok have become fewer and smaller and there is still the fear that the people have just been brought back to be used as subjects for a research on the consequences of radiation. Thus, six months later, about a hundred people return to Ujelang.
The government of the Marshall Islands signs the third Interim Use Agreement for Kwajalein against the express wishes of the landowners, who have formed themselves into a mutual help group, the Kwajalein Atoll Cooperation (KAC).
March 18 - The 167 native inhabitants of Bikini sue the US for recompensation of 450 million US$.
September 2 - On the third annual meeting of the Association of Chief Executives of the Pacific Basin, Marshall Islands President Amata Kabua suggests the use of Bikini and Enewetak atolls, which have already been contaminated by nuclear bomb tests, as storage facility for Japanese nuclear waste, which would otherwise be stored in the ocean.
|During operation homecoming in 1982 I was an employee on Kwajalein Missile range and I was fired for taking part. There was an order for all employees not to take part but I didn't follow it. Instead I went to the camps and stayed there to help people because I believed they were doing the right thing. I believe I've lost all the benefits that I would have recieved being an employee of Kwajalein. But that's alright. For 16 years I worked with Global [the recruiting agency] or the Army. I was a maid. The wage I recieved at that time was about $4 an hour - good money. I sacrificed that to be with the people and fight for our rights.
March - One sixth of the 250 Marshallese directly affected by the Bravo test in 1954 have developed thyroid cancer. They have to be examined every year and to take pills their whole lives through.
May 30 - The Marshall Islands finalizes an agreement with the Reagan administration known as Compact of Free Association and calls for a national referendum on the agreement to held in August the same year. Contrary to the wishes of the KAC, the accord provides for a 50-year lease of the Kwajalein islands. Most of the other points of the agreement likewise clearly ignore the demands of the KAC.
June 19 - Kwajalein landowners organize a massive sail-in protest known as "Operation Homecoming". More than 1,000 Marshallese stage a resettlement protest by occupying Kwajalein Island and eleven other islands in the Kwajalein complex. The protesting Marshallese establish two camps on Kwajalein itself, making it clear that the people were there to stay. Interviews with many protesters involved in the civil disobedience reflect how much they enjoy living on clean islands catching fish and sea turtles, and the community spirit of the people working together. The army arrests 13 elected and traditional Kwajalein leaders, and cut off communications, food shipments and water to the camp sites. The soldiers begin daily body searches of Marshallese employees, and erect barbed wire, search lights and a fenced-in checkpoint.
August - A missile test scheuled on August 3 is postponed when Roi-Namur landowners refuse to leave their campsites and move into the shelters. The Army tries to persuade them with Cokes and ice cream. "We cannot help but feel amazed by the childish and insulting level by which the Department of Defence has chosen to address the Kwajalein people," comments the Marshall Islands Journal.
September - US ambassador to Micronesia Fred Zeder and a top Pentagon official say "The US will not negotiate under duress ... the demonstration must end before any negotiations can occur."
October 20 - The Marshallese Island gouvernment and the US conclude a new lease agreement for Kwajalein, ending the four-month protest. The new agreement spells out the following conditions:
Under the trusteeship we have come to know and respect you as members of our American family, and now, as happens to all families, members grow up and leave home. I want you to know that we wish you all the best as you assume full responsibility for your domestic affairs and foreign relations, as you chart your own course for economic development, and as you take up your new status in the world as a sovereign nation. But you will always be family to us.
In the beginning of the year, a set of notes and letters known as the "Warren papers" (after their author, Army Col. Stafford Warren, who had been part of the staff at Bikini Atoll during the tests in 1946) become public. These papers show that the "Crossroads" cleanup was the antithesis of a well-planned, safety-conscious operation. Servicemen and civilians were forced to work day after day on research ships which had been close to the explosion - in some cases sleeping on board - with inadequate detection instruments and training. The papers cause a small scandal.
September - The Marshall Islands vote narrowly to accept the Compact of Free Association. It means that the Marshall Islands will become somewhat independent in 1986, with the US still taking charge of defence affairs and being allowed to use Kwajalein as a test area. The US promises to pay US$ 750 million in fifteen years as economic aid and compensation, but radiation survivors are banned from taking their cases against the US administration to US courts. Actually, Marshallese now always have to prove in the course of court suits that the damages for which they are demanding new compensation was not yet known at the time of earlier damage payments.
Senator Johnston: Is it understood that we have full plenary power to say that any activity [of the Marshallese Government] is military even though we may be wrong?
June 10 - For the first time, a missile is destroyed 100 miles out in space, hit by another weapon. A Minuteman missile complete with "warhead", launched from California, had been intercepted by a missile launched from Meck, a tiny island of the Kwajalein atoll, the first 'success' of the Star Wars program.
March 14 - A delegation of Rongelap people go to Washington to demand aid to move from their contaminated island. They request about US$ 27 million for resettlement to a new community on Mejato Island.
May - The people from Rongelap are brought to Mejato by the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" after the US refused to transport them despite promises of some US officials to do so. It takes four trips to carry all the people plus cargo.
August 6 - The South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty is signed in Rarotonga, the Cooke Islands' capital. In order to make it possible for the US to sign its protocols, the drafters had decided to establish a nuclear-free zone only south of the equator, excluding Micronesia. The treaty does not prohibit ballistic missiles nor facilities which are part of nuclear war systems or networks. Vanuatu, which had been the first country to impose a port ban on nuclear ships in 1982, refuses to sign because the contract does not go far enough. The King of Tonga, who wishes to be free to invite the US navy into his country's ports, also does not sign.
January 13 - The Compact of Free Association is ratified by the US President under Public Law 99-239.
Spring - Ebeye islanders organize another sail-in. The 150-200 protesters, mostly women - because the men had been told that they would lose their jobs if they took part - are finally removed by force by Marshallese police.
November 29 - An anti-pollution treaty is signed by sixteen nations, among them France, US, Australia and New Zealand. The treaty commits the countries to "prevent, reduce and control pollution from any source in the South Pacific Region".
December - US officials say the Marshall Islands are a possible site for the storage of nuclear waste. On December 16, the Marshallese president Amata Kabua sends a telegram to Washington, showing interest in the plan and in a bidding.
A total amount of US$ 25 billion has been spent for research and testing in the Star Wars program since its start in 1984.
September - In a suit demanding recompensation, the people of Enewetak islands claim that the US violated the United Nations trusteeship agreement and its own promises to care for them after they were moved off Enewetak. They declare that a total of five islands of the Enewetak Atoll were partially or totally destroyed by nuclear bomb tests while Runit Island was made uninhabitable because tonnes of plutonium-saturated sand and debris were dumped into a crater on the island and covered with concrete. The clean-up finished in 1980, they further state, did not repair damage to the atoll's lagoon. Furthermore, long-term damage to the agricultural productivity was caused by the removal of extensive amounts of plant material and topsoil that were contaminated with plutonium.
July - The lagoon of the Bikini Atoll, where the wrecks of over 90 American and Japanese warships lie under about 100 feet (30 meters) of water, will be promoted as a diving spot for tourists from the US and Japan, says Jack Niedenthal, liaison officer on Bikini: "We've got a gold mine down there. Everyone who dived on Bikini says it was the best dive of his life. ... Where else in the world can you dive down to atomic-bombed ships?"
February 1 - An unsigned document with the title "Long-term storage and Permanent Disposal of Nuclear Materials - a Proposal for a Feasibility Study on the Marshall Islands" becomes public in the US and renews the discussion about waste storage on the Marshalls. Diplomatic sources say it has "at least gone through the hands of the Marshallese Ambassador".
June 5 - An article appears in the Marshall Islands Journal saying that the Marshall Islands government had prepared a detailed proposal for conducting a feasibility study on the long-term storage and permanent disposal of nuclear material in one of the islands. It is pointed out that a lot of nuclear waste will come from dismantling US and Russian weapons.
July - On the basis of the findings of a scientific study began in 1991, US officials say that it would be possible for people to return to Rongelap Island, but add that food would have to be imported.
With the economic aid from the US (in connection with the Compact of Free Association), the Marshallese government has tried to build a touristic infrastructure. Marshall Islands does attract 5,000 tourists a year. The Marshallese government, however, manages to get just US$ 3 million from tourism, the export of coconuts and the issuance of fishing permits, while spending on imports amounts to about $ 35 million. The promised goal of independence turns out to be a joke. As long as the money from the US comes, some problems can be drowned in American beer, but, as president Kabua claims, the "actual way of live is unsustainable, incapable of being financed further". The Asian Development Bank estimates a drop of the average annual per capita income from $1050 (1990) to $350 when the US stops paying in 2001.
May - The Bikini Council votes overwhelmingly against pursuing the proposal to store nuclear waste on islands contaminated by nuclear tests.
March - The National Security Council of the US shows interest in the project of the 1995-founded company US Fuel and Security Services to provide a final storage facility on an American island in the Pacific Ocean. The firm claims to have already paid millions of dollars as deposit for the purchase of the island, whose name was not divulged. Partners for the whole project, that will cover complete service for nuclear power plants from uranium mining, to transport and storage are the US-company Bethlehem Steel and the German "Gesellschaft für Nuklear Behälter (GNB)".
The Marshalls Foreign Minister Phillip Muller has asked a United States Senate committe to launch an independent review of US scientific data by the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, this is also one of the recommandations of Presidnent Clinton's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. The findings of this committee contracdicted the information provided by the US gouvernment since the 1950s by claiming that the Bravo test was only one of the many nuclear blasts that exposed Marshall islanders to radiation and that more than the four atolls (Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utirik) were exposed to fallout. Question concerning the use of Marshall Islanders in medical experiments left unanswered.
April - In a meeting in Moscow, US president Clinton suggests to Russian president Yeltsin that an international facility be built for the final storage of nuclear waste. Clinton says it would stop reprocessing and limit the danger of plutonium proliferation. Apart from the profit to be made, the facility would be a sign of the goodwill between the US and Russia in working together for disarmament and safety.
May - The Chairman of the House Committee of Resources and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Native American and Insular Affairs write to the US Secretary of Energy, Hazel O'Leary, urging a positive response to the plan for a feasibility study on storage of low-level waste on an uninhabited island of the Marshall Islands. This marks the first official US support for the plan of the Marshallese government.