Monday, October 22, 2012


Paradise With an Asterisk

Outside looks at present-day Bikini Atoll, and the lives of the 34 native Bikinians who used to call it home.

Despite the natural beauty, it is impossible to walk anywhere, or look anywhere, and escape Bikini’s nightmare history. Every man-made object on the island is an artifact either of the bomb tests or of some failed attempt to help the Bikinians return to their home. There are old bunkers built to shield cameras from atomic explosions; buildings put up by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its radiological measuring program; houses erected by the U.S. in the 1970s for returning Bikinians; dump trucks, bulldozers, backhoes, semi trailers, fuel tanks, and forklifts, some decaying and covered with vegetation. There is a plywood building, nearly falling apart, with a rotting sign that says King Juda Lab, which was established to provide radiation testing for repatriated Bikinians. There is a sign on the machine shop that reads WE CAN FIX EVERYTHING EXCEPT BROKEN HEART. All of this is being reclaimed; it is all sinking back into paradise.

There's fascinating stuff here on Lyndon Johnson's ill-advised plan to return the Bikinians to their now "safe" island in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as the series of poorly-chosen relocation sites before and since. It's pretty much "The Day After Tomorrow" in terms of solid planning?

10 Comments / Post A Comment


what I gathered from this excerpt is that Lost was based on a true story.

so wait, does the smoke monster represent LBJ?


@redheaded&crazie no dummy the creepy guy with the big eyes (uhhh) is LBJ!


*I don't know what I'm talking about. So actually, everything is the same as usual.


Glad to see it@j


That crab is HUGE! Goodness. Get on my plate.

Miss Maszkerádi

Stupid question: how is a place that got a dozen H-bombs dropped on it more or less fit for human habitation, while the entire region around Chernobyl is going to be a dead zone for centuries?? Do I just not understand radiation?

Tuna Surprise

Your question intrigued me so I did a little googling and some questionable websites tell me there was 200 tons of uranimun at Chernobly (which seems a little high). Wikipedia says you only need 15 pounds of uranium to make a bomb. My guess is that it also has to do with the uranium being used up in the blast. Please science people...clear this up!


@Tuna Surprise I found this article on the radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2466/if-nuclear-fallout-lasts-thousands-of-years-how-did-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-recover-so-quickly (sorry, don't know how to hyperlink!). It sounds like the residual radiation diminished fairly quickly. I'm not sure how much this applies to Bikini Atoll but it's something to go on.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Good lord that was interesting.


Wow what an interesting read. And so sad. What an incredible loss.


Radiologic technologist here. I shoot x-rays on people, but received some training on radiation in general.

There are different types of radiation. Some are fast moving, others slow moving. Some break down quickly, others not so quickly.

So, depending on what was dropped, it may or may not be safe to live in these places.

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