Radioactive Shellfish Found Near U.S. Nuclear Dump Site on Marshall Islands

The Department of Energy has disclosed radioactive shellfish in a lagoon near Runit Dome, where the U.S. entombed waste from U.S. nuclear testing. (Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The Department of Energy has disclosed radioactive shellfish in a lagoon near Runit Dome, where the U.S. entombed waste from U.S. nuclear testing. (Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Researchers have found high levels of radiation in giant clams near the Central Pacific site where the United States entombed waste from nuclear testing almost four decades ago, raising concerns the contamination is spreading from the dump site’s tainted groundwater into the ocean and the food chain.

The findings from the Marshall Islands suggest that radiation is either leaking from the waste site — which U.S. officials reject — or that authorities did not adequately clean up radiation left behind from past weapons testing, as some in the Marshall Islands claim.

A Los Angeles Times map shows the location of the nuclear dump site in the Marshall Islands.

A Los Angeles Times map shows the location of the nuclear dump site in the Marshall Islands.

The radioactive shellfish were found near Runit Dome — a concrete-capped waste site known by locals as “The Tomb” — according to a presentation made by a U.S. Department of Energy scientist this month in Majuro, the island nation’s capital. The clams are a popular delicacy in the Marshall Islands and in other nations, including China, which has aggressively harvested them from vast swaths of the Pacific.

According to Terry Hamilton, a veteran nuclear physicist at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Runit Dome is vulnerable to leakage by storm surge and sea level rise, and its groundwater, which is leaking into the lagoon and ocean, is severely contaminated.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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