On this day in history – the Bikini H-Bomb test took place

In 1954, at Bikini, in the Pacific Ocean, the blast of the
U.S. hydrogen bomb code-named Bravo was the most powerful of all U.S.
thermonuclear bomb tests in the area.

The 15 megaton nuclear explosion far exceeded the expected
yield of 4 to 8 megatons (6Mt predicted), and was about 1,000 times more
powerful than each of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during
World War II. The scientists and military authorities were shocked by the size
of the explosion and many of the instruments they had put in place to evaluate
the effectiveness of the device were destroyed.

Bikini is a Pacific archipelago that is part of the Marshall
Islands. In this test, one of the atolls was totally vaporized and disappeared
in the over 100-mile wide mushroom cloud.

Fallout exceeded predictions. Earlier tests began in 1946
after the indigenous people were evacuated to an island believed to be a safe
distance away. (They were moved again in 1949.)

Castle Bravo blast. By United States Department of Energy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The military authorities and scientists had promised the
Bikini Atoll’s native residents that they would be able to return home after
the nuclear tests. A majority of the island’s family heads agreed to leave the
island, and most of the residents were moved to the Rongerik Atoll and later to
Kili Island. Both locations proved unsuitable to sustaining life, resulting in
starvation and requiring the residents to receive ongoing aid.

Despite the promises made by authorities, nuclear tests rendered
Bikini unfit for habitation, contaminating the soil and water, making
subsistence farming and fishing too dangerous. The United States later paid the
islanders and their descendants $2 billion in compensation for damage caused by
the nuclear testing program and their displacement from their home island.  

As of 2014, it may be technically possible for the former
residents and their descendants to live on the atoll’s islands, but virtually
none of those alive today have ever lived on the atoll and very few want to
move there.

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Posted on March 1, 2016, in Useful Information. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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