The tests on Enewetak

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Enewetak Atoll was the site where most nuclear tests were carried out, 43 to be precise. It is estimated that about 8% of the terrestrial mass of the atoll was vaporised. One of the most devastating bombs was known as Mike, with a power of 10.4 megatons, 750 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. The Mike bomb vaporised the island of Elugelab and created a crater one mile in diameter (1.6 km) and200 feetdeep (61 m). 

The inhabitants of Enewetak lived as exiles in Ujelang for a period of more than thirty years. Life in Ujelang was very harsh and cases of malnutrition, illness and epidemics were frequent. It must also be taken into account that, in addition to the physical suffering, the trauma of the loss of their ancestors’ land was even more painful for a society, such as that of the Marshallese, deeply rooted in their land.


In 1958, nuclear testing was ended but the United States continued to use Enewetak Atoll until 1980 for various purposes such as testing intercontinental missiles and rocket engines (some of which used beryllium, a very polluting element), experiments in the formation of craters and studies in marine biology.


Between 1977 and 1980, the cleaning work, rehabilitation and resettlement of Enewetak residents took place, although they could only occupy a part of the atoll since the remainder still had high levels of radioactivity.