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U.S. Nuclear Testing and Radioactive Fallout in the Marshall Islands

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U.S. Nuclear Testing and Radioactive Fallout in the Marshall Islands. Elaine Cox MS-4 ... D.O.E. Marshall Islands Medical Program. Began in 1954 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: U.S. Nuclear Testing and Radioactive Fallout in the Marshall Islands


1
U.S. Nuclear Testing and Radioactive Fallout in
the Marshall Islands
  • Elaine Cox MS-4
  • Tinsley Harrison Society
  • November 17, 2005

2
Outline
  • Effects of ionizing radiation on humans
  • 1954 Castle BRAVO and fallout effects
  • U.S. presence in the Marshall Islands since 1958
  • Displacement of Marshall Islanders

3
Types of Radiation
4
Examples Radiation Exposures
  • Rad - radiation absorbed dose
  • 100 rad 1 Gray (Gy)
  • Chest x-ray - 0.06 - 0.11 mGy
  • Barium enema - 7.0 mGy
  • Lowest dose with observable effect
  • 0.1-0.5 Gy
  • Lethal dose
  • LD50 1.4 4.5 Gy
  • Certain death 10Gy

5
Acute Radiation Syndrome
6
Factors Determining Lethality
  • Dose Rate
  • Distance from source
  • Shielding
  • Available medical therapy

7
Delayed Radiation Injury
  • Cancers - thyroid, skin, breast, lung, GI
  • Leukemias
  • Growth retardation in children
  • Infertility
  • Birth defects
  • Cataracts

8
Delayed Radiation Injury
  • Blood vessels
  • Fibrosis of vessel walls, end organ damage
  • Skin
  • Radiation dermatitis desquamation, impaired
    wound healing, infection, ulceration, fibrosis
  • Heart
  • Pericardial fibrosis, myocardial ischemia

9
Delayed Radiation Injury
  • Lungs
  • Acute lung injury, radiation pneumonitis,
    interstitial fibrosis
  • GI tract
  • Esophagitis, gastritis, enteritis, colitis,
    mucosal ulceration, atrophy, and fibrosis
  • Kidneys
  • Fibrosis, hyalinization of glomeruli, urinary
    bladder fibrosis and ulceration

10
Outline
  • Effects of ionizing radiation on humans
  • 1954 Castle BRAVO and fallout effects
  • U.S. presence in the Marshall Islands since 1958
  • Displacement of Marshall Islanders

11
Marshall Islands
  • 29 atolls, 5 islands
  • 750,000 square miles of ocean
  • 70 square miles land area

12
Marshall Islands
  • 500 2000 BC Micronesian settlers
  • 1600s Spanish, Dutch, English, Germans
  • Early 1900s WWII Japanese control
  • After WWII UN Strategic Trust Territory, state
    administered by US

13
Marshall Islands
  • 1946 1958
  • 67 Nuclear detonations in the Marshall Islands
  • 1950s Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)
  • 1958
  • US, Great Britain, USSR agreed to suspend nuclear
    weapons testing

14
1954 Operation Castle Bravo
  • 0645h, March 1st, 1954
  • 15,000 kilotons
  • Three times more powerful than planned
  • Natives not evacuated beforehand
  • Previous fallout clouds had traveled away from
    inhabited islands
  • Reduction in military budget
  • Inadequate numbers of ships and aircrafts

15
Crossroads BAKER 1946
16
BRAVO on Rongelap
  • Like the sun rising in the west followed by
    blast wave
  • Snow-like material fell for several hours- CaO
  • Water in cisterns turned yellow

17
US Nuclear Tests
  • H6hrs
  • Visible fallout on Rongelap atoll
  • H24hrs
  • 2/3rds inhabitants experience nausea, vomiting,
    diarrhea, anorexia, itching and burning skin
  • H2wks
  • Many with cutaneous lesions, hair loss

18
Initial Medical Care
  • Evacuations 48-78 hours later
  • Medical team arrives 8 days after detonation
  • Extensive exams and lab studies performed daily
  • Project 4.1 authorized
  • Exposed vs. Control groups, long term study
  • Classified as Secret Restricted Data

19
Doses to the Exposed Marshallese
20
Dose Estimates (Gy) to the Thyroid
21
Thyroid Abnormalities
  • Neoplasms with 2.5 Gy exposure, on ave 10yr
    after exposure
  • Hypothyroidism with 54 Gy exposure
  • Cretinism 2 infants
  • Growth retardation
  • Diverse abnormalities
  • One-third of exposed Rongelap
  • Largest incidence in children
  • 1966- all exposed place on thyroxine

22
Other Delayed Effects
  • Hematologic manifestations
  • Neutropenia, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia
  • Chromosomal aberrations
  • Acute myeloblastic leukemia
  • One case, 19 yo boy, exposed at 1 yo
  • Growth retardation
  • Most cases found to be related to hypothyroidism

23
Outline
  • Effects of ionizing radiation on humans
  • 1954 Castle BRAVO and fallout effects
  • U.S. presence in the Marshall Islands since 1958
  • Displacement of Marshall Islanders

24
Problems with US Health Care Assistance
  • Multiple military and government institutions
    involved
  • Failure to assign responsibility, financial
    support, and authority
  • Poor communication
  • Language and cultural barriers
  • Political tension, mistrust, fear of further
    illness

25
D.O.E. Marshall Islands Medical Program
  • Began in 1954
  • 253 exposed and 91 non-exposed individuals
  • Annual health evaluation and cancer screening
  • Year round care since 1998
  • Finances referrals to Hawaii

26
D.O.E. Environmental Monitoring
  • Began in 1972
  • Samples plants, foods, marine animals, soil, and
    water on 10 atolls
  • Whole body radiation counter and research center
  • Prevention of radioactive uptake by plants

27
Outline
  • Effects of ionizing radiation on humans
  • 1954 Castle BRAVO and fallout effects
  • U.S. presence in the Marshall Islands since 1958
  • Displacement of Marshall Islanders

28
Nuclear Nomads
  • Bikini Islanders agreed to temporarily leave
    atoll in 1946
  • Still have not returned
  • Kili Island
  • Displacement resulted in major change in
    lifestyle and diet
  • Diabetes
  • Psychological trauma
  • Dependence on US

29
Nuclear Nomads
  • Rongelap people returned in 1957
  • Evacuated Rongelap again in 1985
  • Because of fears of continued health effects from
    radiation
  • Facilitated by Greenpeace

30
Summary
  • Marshallese experienced many short and long term
    health effects from nuclear fallout.
  • Geographic displacement has contributed to public
    health problems.
  • Cultural barriers, poor communication, and
    excessive bureaucracy has complicated U.S.
    attempts to repair damage.

31
Resources
  • Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease
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