Remembering Bikini Atoll

A photo of Baker Project nuclear explosion, Bikini Atoll

A photo of Baker Project nuclear explosion, Bikini Atoll, provided by Wikipedia.

Most folks remember August 6th, as the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and with all the destruction and lingering pain and trauma that still persists today as a result. But the nuclear arms race never ended with WWII, and continued to escalate from basic atomic weapons, to far more powerful, sophisticated thermonuclear ones. As part of the development process, these weapons had to be tested somewhere, and in the case of the US Military, the remote island of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands was the place.

Another View of Castle Bravo

Another View of Castle Bravo from the air, provided by Wikipedia

While, the atoll is remote, the destruction still impacted many. In the case of Castle Bravo, the blast was far more powerful than anyone calculated due to a runaway Lithium-7 reaction, 1,200 times worse than Hiroshima in fact, and the fallout had a big impact even to this day on Marshall Islanders in nearby islands. Like the Hibakusha victims in Japan, the Marshall Islanders have suffered medical problems across generations, quick payouts and government meddling (including efforts to resettle the atoll later, which were disastrous). Ironically, Japanese fishermen were among the victims of the Castle Bravo incident.

I’ve always had a fascination with the Pacific Islands, as so much of modern history is tied to these tiny atolls in the middle of the ocean. Even their ancient history, and the story of migration across the vast Pacific is fascinating too. I regret that I’ve never had a chance go there and see the Islands for myself. But I wanted to at least draw attention to the greater problem of nuclear weapons in addition to Hiroshima. In a sense, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only the beginning, but sadly not the end.

Fortunately, Bikini Atoll is now getting recognized by UNESCO as a “negative heritage” site, so the victims of the Marshall Islands and Japan won’t be forgotten.

Here’s to hoping for a nuclear free world, someday. :)

P.S. If you think Castle Bravo was frightening, read about the Soviet weapon, Tsar Bomba, which was far stronger. :(

P.P.S. Posting a day early to catch folks in EU and Asian time zones.

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