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Resource ID: #28806
Subject: Climate Change
Source: Susanne Rust, Carolyn Cole, Ali Raj, Lorena Iñiguez Elebee
Affiliation: Los Angeles Times, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism
Date: 2019-12-05



As seas rise with climate change, the United States will soon be forced to confront the toxic nuclear legacy it buried — and forgot — in the Marshall Islands. For 15 months, Rust and The Times interviewed dozens of sources (including survivors of the atomic campaign, military veterans, former Reagan Administration officials, current politicians, scientists and Marshallese), read thousands of archived documents on the atomic campaign and cleanup, traveled thousands of miles to and within the Marshall Islands, and followed independent researchers as they analyzed the radioactive legacy of U.S. nuclear testing. They discovered the U.S. not only knowingly built a shoddy, “sloppy” nuclear waste site to hold radioactive material, but shipped its own radioactive soil, from Nevada, to the Marshall Islands. The U.S. government also did not tell the Marshallese about a biological weapons testing program it pursued in the Marshall Islands in the 1960s. And now, as climate change threatens to dislodge a containment structure designed to hold more than 3.1 million cubic feet of radioactive material, Rust discovered the U.S. government contractors charged with overseeing the site has misled the Marshallese about its dangers and potential for harm. In a story about thyroid cancers, Raj showed for the first time that folk singers – the traditional vessels and tellers of Marshallese culture and history – were losing their voices as a result of radiation-induced thyroid abnormalities, growths and cancer.
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