KEN KASIK: “My whole vision in life was
to live on this deserted tropical South Pacific island.
Watch out what you tell the Lord!”
MARK WILLACY (REPORTER): America tried to bury its
toxic legacy here on a remote coral atoll.
MICHAEL GERRARD: They covered it over with
an 18-inch-thick dome and left.
– Now the sea is rising and the dome is leaking,
and the men who tried to clean it up, are dying.
KEN KASIK: “It was a total secret. We didn’t
even know. The guys didn’t know.
We were lied to”.
– Tonight, we journey to one of
the most contaminated places on earth and
we meet the people fighting back.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “You know if you accept
that you’re doomed then what is left to
fight for? You know where are
you going to find hope?”
ALSON KELEN: ‘We need the world to help
us. Whatever the world is doing,
please look at us”.
MARK WILLACY: We’re halfway between Australia
and Hawaii, in the middle of a seemingly endless
Pacific Ocean. Below us, chains of mostly
uninhabited islands that together form the
nation of the Marshall Islands.
“Well we’ve just passed
Bikini Atoll, known around the world for 23
atomic tests during the 1940s and 50s. But
where we’re going is much more remote – a
place where nearly twice as many tests were
carried out, some of the biggest in human history”.
Spread over two-million square kilometres
of the central Pacific, the Marshall Islands
is a scattering of more than a thousand islands
Few people have heard of Enewetak,
but it’s the ground zero of US
nuclear testing in the Pacific.
The welcome sign hints at what we’ve come
to see, but when you know what it really is,
few would want to visit this place.
This atoll is a ring of 40 islands, so remote that there’s
no regular transport in or out. It’ll be
a week before our plane returns
– if we’re lucky.
It’s a stunning place, but its beauty holds
a dark, dirty secret.
CHILDREN SINGING: [subtitle] “This is my land. Gone are the days when we live in fear,
fear of the bombs, guns and nuclear…”.
– This is a place whose atomic
past is seared into its present.
The people of Enewetak were forced
into exile by the atomic fallout.
Allowed to return after three decades, a new generation is learning
about the traditions and customs of this place.
– They’ve also been taught about
America’s toxic legacy
and how it lies under a giant dome.
– “So the dome, you call it
CHRISTINA ANINGI: “Mm we call it the tomb”.
– We set out the next morning
to see for ourselves. To do that, we need
guides who know how to navigate the reefs
and the World War II wrecks
that lie in Enewetak’s shallows.
“To get to where we’re going we have to cross the
world’s second largest ocean lagoon
formed by the rim of an ancient
volcano. It’s a 1,000 sq km of the Pacific”.
After nearly two hours, we approach one of
Enewetak Atoll’s 40 islands,
a tiny, scrubby rise called Runit.
What we’ve come to see
is hard to spot from the beach.
Only from the air can you get a true
sense of the size and the scale
of what the United States military calls “the dome”.
The dome is actually a dump. It contains the
toxic leftovers of some of the most powerful
atomic bombs in history, America’s Cold
MICHAEL GERRARD: [Columbia University] “It
is a tomb of nuclear waste. The dome is completely
unlabelled. There’s no fence, there are
no guards there. People can go there if they
want and there’s nobody to stop them”.
– Like other former nuclear test
sites in the Marshall Islands, Runit Island
is officially off limits, but there’s no
one here to stop us when we visit.
This place is just too isolated to guard.
– From 1946 to 1958 the United
States detonated dozens of atomic bombs
in the Marshall Islands.
And while Enewetak is hardly known,
its closest neighbour 300 km
to the east, became synonymous
with nuclear fallout.
Its name is Bikini.
[NEWSREEL VOICEOVER] “On Bikini Island, over three miles from the point of burst.
“On the water you can see the shock wave coming toward the camera.
“Watch those palm trees in the foreground.”
[ROARING SOUND GETS LOUDER]
ALSON KELEN: “Right now I don’t think I’ll
be able to go back.
I mean it is not clean enough for us, it’s not safe”.
– One of the country’s last traditional
navigators, Alson Kelen is adrift,
living in exile because he’s not allowed
to return home to Bikini.
Ahead of the atomic testing there in the 1940s, the United States told Alson Kelen’s family
and the 167 people of his atoll that they had a duty
to the world to leave their islands.
It was a moment filmed by the military’s PR Unit.
ARCHIVE FILM: Scene 26, take 2. [CLAPPER BOARD SNAPS]
MILITARY LEADER: “All right now James
will you tell them that the United
States Government now wants to turn this great
destructive force into something good for
mankind and that this experiment here at Bikini
are the first step in that direction”.
MILITARY LEADER: “Well you tell them
and King Juda that everything,
being in God’s hands, it cannot be
other than good”.
VOICEOVER: “And here by the way you
hear them singing their Marshallese
version of You Are My Sunshine.
VOICEOVER: “The Islanders are a nomadic group
and are well pleased that
the Yanks are going to add a little variety
to their lives”.
– Alson Kelen’s 93-year-old aunt was one
of those who was put on a boat
and taken off her island. Seven decades later,
the pain of forced exile has not eased.
ALSON KELEN: “Every day she says,
‘When are we going back?’
And I keep saying, “Oh one day. I don’t know
when, but one day’.
But I know, I know for a fact, that we’re not going back.
So it’s really, really made me sad
because I don’t know what to tell her.
Should I lie to her?
I mean it’s not her fault,
but I don’t want to lie to her”.
– Hundreds of Marshallese were
shifted off their islands by the United States.
Some, like Lemeyo Abon, after it was too late.
In March 1954, her island was enveloped in the
fall-out from one of the Bikini blasts.
Codenamed Castle Bravo, it was the biggest nuclear
test ever carried out by the United States
– a 1000 times more powerful than
the Hiroshima bomb.
and we just sit down and see what will happen next”.
– A few hours later, 14-year-old Lemeyo
noticed white powder falling from the sky.
– The ‘snow’ was highly radioactive fallout
from the Castle Bravo bomb.
It took days for the Americans to evacuate them.
The survivors remain nuclear refugees to this day.
ARCHIVE FILM: “The meteorologists had predicted
a wind condition which should have carried
the fall out to the north of the group of
small atolls lying to the east of Bikini.
The wind failed to follow the predictions,
but shifted south of that line and the little
islands of Rongelap, Rongerik and Uterick
were in the edge of the path of the fall out.
The medical staff on Kwajalein have advised
us that they anticipate no illness, barring
of course diseases which may
be thereafter contracted”.
– Jack Niedenthal washed up here
in the Marshall Island’s capital Majuro
more than 30 years ago and never left. Now
the head of the country’s Red Cross, he
has spent decades fighting for nuclear justice
for the people of Bikini Atoll, even taking
their fight for compensation to Washington.
JACK NIEDENTHAL: [Red Cross] “As children
you don’t open up your history books and
see a word about Bikini and the nuclear testing
out here, even though in my belief the
Cold War was literally fought and won on the
shores of Bikini. I mean there were 23 weapons
tested up there, 20 of them were hydrogen
bombs. I mean the people of Bikini did do
a lot for mankind.
I mean even now these days you have the North
Korean leader talking about exploding a hydrogen
bomb over the Pacific like it’s nothing.
The idea that they’re even playing around
with words and notions like that is so insulting
and so infuriating to the people who live
out here and have been through this and have
suffered for since the 40s and 50s, it’s
really awful for us to hear that”.
ARCHIVE VOICE OVER: “Scientists term the experiment an entire success, a success in destruction.
As the smoke rises on Enewetak, the curtain
rises on the scenes of man’s oblivion”.
– The impacts of 12 years of nuclear
testing in the Marshall Islands included increased
rates of thyroid and other cancers, and the
permanent exile of people from their home islands.
In 1986, as part of a deal to give the Marshall
Islands independence, the US paid 150 million dollars.
Later, an independent tribunal awarded
more than two billion dollars to victims of
the testing program. Less than four million
was ever paid.
The tribunal office in the capital Majuro is no longer operating,
with most claims unresolved,
sitting in files gathering dust.
GIFF JOHNSON: “The US Government policy on the nuclear weapons legacy in the Marshall Islands,
is to simply downgrade and dismiss
health hazards as non-existent or insignificant”.
– Giff Johnson is the publisher of the
Marshall Islands’ journal, the country’s
only newspaper. For three decades he’s been
a passionate advocate for the local people.
His wife, Darlene Keju, was a famous nuclear
survivor and Marshallese leader who died of
cancer aged just forty-five.
GIFF JOHNSON: “It really makes us wonder
if Marshall Islanders will ever get justice
from the nuclear weapons tests that were conducted
here and justice is the right word.
It’s really important to understand that a lot
of nuclear-contaminated material was tossed
into a crater leftover from a bomb test, a
coral atoll essentially and a coral atoll
by its nature is porous”.
MICHAEL GERRARD: “When the US was getting
ready to clean up and leave in the late 1970s,
they picked the pit that had been left by
one of the smaller atomic explosions and dumped
a lot of this plutonium and other radioactive
waste into the pit and covered it over with
an 18-inch thick dome and left”.
– That dome lies 1100 km to the
west of the capital, Majuro.
Like Bikini Atoll, this place is deemed too hot in radioactive terms for human habitation.
JACK NIEDENTHAL: “People in the United States
would not tolerate something like this in
their own backyard right now – or any time.
That’s why it’s up there. It’s astounding
that it is there. But when you go out there,
it’s very surreal.
I mean to me it’s like this big monument
to America’s giant fuck up”.
– The dome was never meant to be anything but a temporary solution to the
problem of atomic waste. At almost every stage of its construction, safety was sacrificed to save money.
Michael Gerrard is a US climate
change specialist who’s visited the dome.
MICHAEL GERRARD: “The bottom of the dome
is just what was left behind by the nuclear
weapon’s explosion. It’s permeable soil.
There was no effort to line it and therefore
the seawater is inside the dome. Already the
sea sometimes washes over it in a large storm,
and the United States Government has acknowledged
that a major typhoon could break it apart
and cause all of the radiation in it to disperse”.
– You can see why Runit’s remoteness
made it seem like a good place for the dome
and its contaminated contents, but like most
of the islands of the Marshalls, Runit is
barely a metre above sea level at its highest
“When this dome was built in the late 1970s, there was no factoring in sea level rises caused by climate change.
Now, every day when the tide rolls out as it is now, radioactive isotopes from underneath the dome
roll out with it”.
ALSON KELEN: “That dome is the connection
between the nuclear age and the climate change age.
It’ll be a very devastating event if
it really leaks and we’re not talking just
the Marshall Islands, we’re talking the
whole Pacific Ocean”.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “I think it’s really
telling that the ocean is rising and it is
making this nuclear waste leak out because
in a lot of ways this climate change issue
has also been revitalising a lot of conversations
about our nuclear legacy. Every time someone
talks about climate change you can’t ignore
our nuclear legacy as well. It’s linked”.
– Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet
and climate change activist.
She’s proud of her Marshallese heritage.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “It’s my home, it’s
where I’m from, it’s where my family’s
from, my ancestors, they’ve been here for
thousands of years and there’s also just
nothing like it anywhere else and it’s a
part of who I am”.
– A rising leader of her nation,
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner was invited to the 2014
United Nations Climate Change summit in New
York to speak about how the Marshall Islands
is on the frontline in the battle against
rising sea levels.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “The Marshall Islands encompasses
more than 2 million sq km of ocean”.
“I mean it’s the United Nations,
these are world leaders from all
over and it was the first time that I was
able to share something that I cared about,
you know something about our islands”.
– And what she shared was a poem
about climate change, a poem addressed to
her infant daughter.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “You are
a 7-month-old sunrise of gummy smiles.
You are bald as an egg and bald as a Buddha.
You are thighs that are thunder, shrieks that are lightning,
so excited for bananas, hugs and our morning walks along the lagoon.
Dear Matafele Peinem, I want to tell you about
that lagoon, that lazy, lounging lagoon lounging
against the sunrise. Men say that one day
that lagoon will devour you.
They say it will gnaw at the shoreline, chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees,
gulp down rows of sea walls and crunch through your island’s shattered bone”.
Dear Matafele Peinem, don’t
cry. Mummy promises you no one will come and
devour you. No one’s drowning baby. No one’s
moving. No one’s losing their homeland,
no one’s going to become a climate change
– In a place known for sober speeches
and poker face diplomacy,
Kathy Jentil-Kijiner’s pledge to her daughter to fight climate change moved many to tears.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “I mean when they
all stood up I kind thought they were just
being polite but I just found out later that
that’s not, that doesn’t happen all the time”.
– Some estimates put the sea level
rise here in excess of 60 cm by the end of
this century. That’s enough to inundate
three-quarters of the country.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “Now we’re on alert
every time there’s a high tide because the
water will come over and flood our houses,
you know crashing in homes, it will destroy
homes. It’ll dry the crops and, you know,
that didn’t ever happen before. You know
we’re getting a lot more extreme weather
like drought too and so it’s just gotten
a lot worse in the past couple of years”.
ALSON KELEN: “It will kill our reef. If
it kills our reef, it kills our fish, kills
our food and you know Marshall Islands have
very, very limited land so there’s really
nothing for us to survive on. So I would,
you know I would say a very, very short time.
I cannot give you the year but we will
gradually probably start moving out soon”.
– “So the clock is ticking before
you have to relocate?”
ALSON KELEN: “It is, it is ticking”.
JACK NIEDENTHAL: “I drive my grandson to
school every day. He’s eight years old,
and we talk about this stuff”.
– Jack Niedenthal argues that rising seas
are a bigger threat to his island
home and to his grandson’s future than atomic
bombs ever were.
JACK NIEDENTHAL: “I’m telling him your
life is going to be really hard, a lot harder
than my life was and the place that you love
is going to be slowly disappearing and it’s
going to be up to people of your generation
to fight back on this and he, he gets that”.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “Everywhere is the
coast because there are some parts of the
island that are so thin that there’s ocean
on either side of you. We’re just surrounded
by ocean and I don’t think the ocean has
ever looked as big to me until I came back
home after living back in the States”.
– In recent years, late winter king tides
have swept over some islands, choking
crops with salt and even wrecking homes.
The flooding could contaminate the country’s
shallow freshwater aquifers and sewage filled
tides threaten outbreaks of fever and dysentery.
And according to the locals, it’s becoming
much more frequent.
GIFF JOHNSON: “We would go years
in between seeing big, big
inundation incidents and since about 2008,
it’s increased with regularity to the point
where I mean we’ll have six, eight of these
in a year”.
– Not even the dead have been
Here graves have been smashed |
and washed out to sea.
In 2014, a state of emergency was declared when
5 metre swells smashed over the shoreline.
The US Geological Survey warns
that many Pacific atolls like those in the
Marshall Islands, will be
uninhabitable within decades.
MICHAEL GERRARD: “The Marshall Islands are
in grave danger.
There are already a lot of people who are leaving the Marshall Islands,
a lot of them go to Hawaii or to mainland United States,
some of them go elsewhere,
but the long-term future of the Marshall Islands
is not bright”.
[CONGREGATION SINGS HYMNS]
ALSON KELEN: “I would say that our country
is sinking. Our country is a front line so
we’re facing the devastating effect of climate
change and we need the world to help us.
People of Bikini got relocated from their atolls
because of nuclear, today we’re about to
get relocated not from our island, but from
So, whatever the world is
doing, please look at us”.
– For many Marshallese, the dome
on Runit Island remains a potent symbol of
the threat of climate change. It may be made
from half-metre thick concrete panels, but
as we’ve seen elsewhere, the ocean is likely
to win out over concrete every time.
The radiation levels of the people of Enewetak
are supposed to be monitored here in this
space-aged US built lab on the main island.
But when we visit, the machine for assessing
radioactive exposure isn’t working.
The US Government prohibits the export of food
from Enewetak because of the concerns about
contamination. Fish from here is also banned.
But this atoll surrounds a calm lagoon, and
the lure of fresh fish is too much to resist,
despite the lingering radiation. And as we’re
about to find out, it’s not just the people
of the Marshall Islands who are living with
the fallout from what happened here
all those years ago.
– “This was the site of the largest nuclear
clean up in United States’ history.
4,000 young soldiers toiled
here for years to fill in the bomb crater
underneath this dome. Among the more than
80,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil and
debris was plutonium, one of the most toxic
substances on the planet.
For many of the young soldiers who worked
here, there was a high price to pay”.
Those young men are now in their 50s and 60s
and few in the United States know their story.
“From the islands and atolls of the
Marshall Islands, I’ve come
to the deserts of Nevada, another place where
the United States tested many of its atomic weapons.
In fact, you could see the mushroom
clouds from the Nevada test site
100 km away in Las Vegas.
And that’s where I’m headed today, to meet one of
Enewetak’s atomic clean up veterans”.
The suburban sprawl of Las Vegas feels like
another world away from the remote emptiness
of Enewetak Atoll, but the dome is something
former US soldier Jim Androl can never forget
and neither can he forgive.
JIM ANDROL: “I’d never even heard of Enewetak. I never knew that there were 43 nuclear tests out there.
I didn’t know it was radioactive.
They didn’t tell us till we landed.
Everybody kind of pretty much
flipped out when they found out”.
MARK WILLACY: “Because it was radioactive?”
JIM ANDROL: “Because it was radioactive.
I was told I was going to visit a tropical paradise for
the last 6 months of service”.
– A specialist in the Army’s 84th Engineer
Battalion, Jim Androl was one
of thousands of US soldiers sent to help clean
up Enewetak Atoll in the 1970s.
ARCHIVE NEWS STORY: “A thousand workers
from the US armed forces are giving the northern
islands a face lift, striving to dig and scrape
away the radioactive soil and debris”.
– This US news story shows soldiers
on Enewetak wearing radiation suits,
but Jim Androl says this was just
a show for the TV cameras”.
JIM ANDROL: “There was no special gear issued.
We were just issued our normal warm weather
gear, which would have been shorts, t-shirts,
hats and jungle boots and that’s it”.
MARK WILLACY: “And were you given radioactive
JIM ANDROL: “No, none whatsoever”.
MARK WILLACY: “Was there any safety equipment?”
JIM ANDROL: “No”.
ARCHIVE NEWS JIM UPSHAW: [NBC News] “If
people do come back to Runit Island, they’ll
be risking perhaps the hottest radiation on
earth. This island won’t be fit for human
habitation again for at least 24,000 years”.
– On Runit Island, site of the
dome, soldiers were exposed to one of the
most toxic substances known, the result of
a bomb test gone wrong.
MICHAEL GERRARD: “One of the attempted nuclear
weapons explosions didn’t work and so the
plutonium, rather than having a nuclear blast,
was just broken apart by the conventional
explosions, leading to about four hundred
little chunks of plutonium that were spread
all over around the atoll”.
– Those four hundred chunks were
put in plastic bags
and tossed into the crater underneath the dome.
JIM ANDROL: “Well they had us walk around
and pick up loose pieces for instance and
just gather up whatever we could, throw it
in a pile and I never had any clue that dust
could literally get into your lungs, but these
guys were dealing with that every day,
all of us were, we all were”.
– Declassified US Government documents
reveal that Washington knew that troops would
be exposed to plutonium on Runit Island. This
secret cable from 1972 talks about the existence
of solid plutonium-bearing chunks on the island’s
surface. It warned that the quantity of plutonium
was undoubtedly large and that it presented
a new and serious concern.
MICHAEL GERRARD: “Many of the US soldiers
in particular who worked at Enewetak have
since come down with illnesses that they say
were caused by their work there”.
– Jim Androl is one of those soldiers.
For years he’s suffered from a myriad of
complaints he says are linked
to his service on Enewetak.
BEV ANDROL: “He had his gall bladder out,
shortly after that they found a seven-and-a-half-pound
tumour, cancerous tumour in his abdomen”.
JIM ANDROL: “I suffer from roughly 40 to
45 residuals from the cancer. I’ve got pancreatitis.
I’ve got a spot on my liver that they’re
– The problem for former clean-up
workers like Jim Androl, is that unlike the
other US soldiers involved in the atomic tests,
the government does not recognise them as
atomic veterans. This means the 4,000 clean-up veterans have no special healthcare coverage.
Many are lumbered with crippling
medical bills. Washington argues safety precautions
on Enewetak were exemplary, that worker’s
radiation exposure fell below recommended
limits and that their illnesses and the time
they spent on Enewetak are not linked.
GIFF JOHNSON: “I mean these people were
in the army. What choice did they have?
They were told go clean up Enewetak. They went.
I think mostly they’re trying to get health
coverage, medical care because they’ve got,
some of them have terrible bills, really high
bills from hospitals because of their treatment”.
– There has never been a formal study
of the health of Enewetak workers, but
one informal survey reported that hundreds
suffered problems such as cancers, brittle
bones and birth defects in their children.
KEN KASIK: “Hi mate, how’s it going?”
MARK WILLACY: “I didn’t think I’d be seeing you in hospital, are you okay?”
KEN KASIK: “Yeah, a little better”.
MARK WILLACY: “Yeah? Take a seat, sit down
mate. How are you feeling?”
KEN KASIK: “Strange. I might have had some
damage done to another part of my body when
they were putting in the stomach aneurism”.
– Enewetak veteran, Ken Kasik, knows all
about hospital bills.
We meet in Hawaii, although by the time I arrive Ken has been rushed
to intensive care with a brain aneurism.
As a 24-year-old he was working
at a US air-force base in Hawaii where he
was asked if he was interested in running
the military exchange
on an idyllic pacific atoll called Enewetak.
KEN KASIK: “Oh sign me up, that’s it I’m
gone. My whole vision in life was to live
on a deserted tropical South Pacific island.
Watch out what you tell the Lord. It came true”.
– This would be no posting to paradise.
Not long after arriving on Enewetak,
Ken Kasik realised he was living and working
in the middle of a massive nuclear clean up,
one centred on the dome on Runit Island.
KEN KASIK: “It was a very dirty operation
and the same vehicles that transported this
filthy, filthy, filthy horrible atomic waste
to Runit, the boys are on these boats.
You can see this crap going on their
faces and on their bodies.
You know you cannot get away from it”.
– Like Jim Androl, Ken Kasik says he was
never given any safety gear or training.
He says the thousands of young men
sent into the clean-up, had no idea
of what they were exposed to.
KEN KASIK: “It was a total secret. We didn’t
even know. The guys didn’t know.
None of those guys would be in an area that’s so contaminated if they knew about it.
We were lied to and our boys worked
6-month tours on a dirty island
and the government says ‘you were never there’”.
– Ken Kasik has undergone nearly 40
surgeries for cancerous lesions which he
blames on his time on Enewetak. But he and
Jim Androl count themselves lucky, saying
many of their comrades died young
and in terrible pain.
KEN KASIK: “The radiation is killing everybody”.
JIM ANDROL: God there’s been so many. We
just lost one two weeks ago. We lost one about
six months before that. They told me I’d
be dead by now.
Kenny is supposed to have been dead by now”.
– Jim Androl’s wife Bev is now helping the
Enewetak veterans battle for justice,
both in the corridors of Washington
and on social media.
BEV ANDROL: “Most of these men we have never
met in our lives but they’re like our brothers.
We love these guys and you know they’re
dying before they’re 60. It’s ridiculous”.
KEN KASIK: “There’s nobody trained in
the atomic waste.
There’s people trained in the actual making of the bombs, testing the bombs and all like that,
but not picking it up. You cannot get rid of this. The island should just be destroyed”.
– Wherever his work took him around the world, Ken
Kasik always returned here to his Hawaiian home.
These days, restricted to a hospital bed,
he rarely gets to enjoy its beauty and lifestyle.
It’s been four decades since he first left
here for his adventure on Enewetak,
and Ken Kasik is haunted both mentally
and physically by the dome.
KEN KASIK: “America dumped all of their
worst rubbish to the Marshallese and abandoned
them with it, and we don’t want to hear
about it. It’s a disgusting shame and it…
it makes us look bad”.
ARCHIVE FILM: “And thus the natives express
to the people of the United States their welcome,
in their simplicity and their pleasantness
and their courtesy, they’re more and willing
to cooperate although they don’t understand
the world of nuclear energy any more than we do”.
MICHAEL GERRARD: Runit Dome embodies injustices
in many different ways.
The fact that all these weapons were exploded there;
the fact that this plutonium was left behind;
the fact that the workers who worked there have not
and very importantly the fact that the entire nation is endangered by sea level rise
which is caused mostly by the greenhouse gas emissions of the major emitting countries
of which the US was historically number one.
These are an accumulation of injustices”.
JACK NIEDENTHAL: “The last couple of years
when people would come and they wanted to
talk about the nuclear legacy, I said the
nuclear legacy is not as devastating and it’s
almost not as important as climate change.
Because if I’m a Marshall Islander and I
have an island that has radiation on it and
has the hope of some day being mitigated or
rehabilitated, if I have a choice between
that island and one that’s underwater forever,
I’ll take the radioactive island every time
because there’s still hope in that.
Once these islands go underwater,
they aren’t coming back”.
– The Marshall Islands may be
damned either way, because Michael Gerrard
says even if the dome is smashed apart in
a Pacific storm, it may make little difference
to the environment outside.
MICHAEL GERRARD: “I’m persuaded that the
radiation outside the dome is as bad as the
radiation inside the dome and therefore it
is a tragic irony that the US Government may
be right that if this material were to be
released, that the already bad state of the
environment around there
wouldn’t get much worse”.
– The Marshall Islands’ isolation
made it ideal for a super power to test the
most destructive weapons in history, and now
its survival is threatened yet again by the
actions of much larger nations thousands of
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “These are situations
where the Marshallese people are almost either
guinea pigs or they’re just seen as disposable.
We’re seen as disposable in both of these situations.
We’re disposable, our lives
don’t matter, the war matters, nuclear bombs matter.
Our lives don’t matter, oil matters,
money matters, gas matters you know,
– Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is determined that her
child will not become a climate change refugee.
KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: “See I don’t think
we’re doomed and I also can’t accept that.
You know if you accept that you’re doomed
then what is left to fight for, you know?
Where are you going to find hope?
A lot of people describe our islands as drowning but we like to say that, you know,
we’re fighting we’re
not just drowning”.
[reciting poem] “And there are thousands
out on the street, marching hand in hand
chanting for change now and they’re marching
for you baby, they’re marching for us.
Because we deserve to do more than just survive.
We deserve to thrive.
Dear Matafele Peinem, your eyes heavy
with drowsy weight.
So just close those eyes and sleep in peace
because we won’t let you down.
ERIC CAMPBELL: St Petersburg has
seen empires rise and fall.
A hundred years ago a revolution toppled the last tsar.
Today, many want to oust the
president they call the new tsar.
– They’re an army of young activists,
desperate to bring in a new age.
They’re putting their faith in a charismatic but controversial challenger.
– So has the Russian strongman finally met his match?
We’ve come on a very special day to find out.
PROTESTOR: “I love St. Petersburg, thank you”.