Nuclear 'coffin' could be leaking waste into the Pacific : UN chief

A concrete dome that was built during the Cold War could be leaking radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean.

    2019/05/20

NSFW    RUNIT DOME, MARSHALL ISLANDS — UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has raised concerns over a concrete dome in the Marshall Islands leaking radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean.

The nuclear dome was built in the late 1970s during the Cold War era. The dome was originally built to contain radioactive waste from nuclear tests conducted by the U.S., CBS News reports.

According to CBS News, the U.S. conducted 64 nuclear weapons tests at Bikini and Enewetak atolls in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958.

The tests included the "Bravo" hydrogen bomb, which was said to be a 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, reports Al Jazeera.

Radioactive ash and soil from nuclear explosions were put into the crater, which was closed with an 18-inch-thick concrete dome. This was originally meant to be a temporary solution with the bottom of the crater never being lined.

Decades of exposure has caused cracks to develop on the surface of the concrete, raising concerns that the radioactive waste present in the dome could slowly be making its way into the Pacific Ocean, CBS News reports.

Guterres, who was speaking to students in Fiji during a press event as part of his South Pacific tour, was quoted by CBS News as saying, "The consequences of these [issues] have been quite dramatic, in relation to health, in relation to the poisoning of waters in some areas."

Guterres is currently touring the South Pacific to raise awareness on issues related to climate change.
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