Bikini people reject N-waste plans

Issue 

Bikini people reject N-waste plans

On May 16 the Bikini people of the Marshall Islands rejected a proposal to store nuclear waste on one of their islands contaminated by US nuclear testing in the 1950s.

After two days of intense discussion and debate, the Bikini Council voted overwhelmingly against pursuing the proposal. This came only weeks after the council had directed its legal counsel to obtain information on nuclear waste disposal to help inform the Bikini people.

In a resolution that recognised 1996 as the 50th anniversary of the removal of the people of Bikini from their homeland due to nuclear testing, they reaffirmed their commitment to cleaning up and resettling their atoll rather than turning it into the world's nuclear garbage bin.

"This is a vote in favour of a future", said Bunny McDiarmid of Greenpeace. "The Bikini people have already paid a heavy price from the nuclear testing and have rejected extending this nuclear mortgage to future generations."

The Marshall Islands government has been promoting the N-waste proposal all over the world, most recently at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting in New York. Representatives from other Pacific countries have offered to support the Marshallese in pursuing proper compensation from the US for the damage done to their people and environment by nuclear tests there in the 1950s, but added that they would not support any proposal to build a nuclear waste facility in the region.

Both the United States and Japan have said that they would not consider participating in the scheme. However, it is reported that representatives from Taiwan are in the Marshall Islands discussing the proposal with the government, and that Rongelap atoll may be under consideration as an alternative site.