Enewetak is a large coral atoll of 40 islands in the Pacific Ocean and with its 850 people forms a legislative district of the Ralik Chain of the Marshall Islands. Its land area totals less than 5.85 square kilometres (2.26 sq mi), not higher than 5 metres and surrounding a deep central lagoon, 80 kilometres (50 mi) in circumference. It is the second-westernmost atoll of the Ralik Chain and is 305 kilometres (190 mi) west from Bikini Atoll. A total of 67 nuclear and atmospheric bombs were detonated on Enewetak and Bikini between 1946 and 1958. To put this in perspective, you would have to detonate 1.6 Hiroshima bombs every day for 12 years to match the explosive yield derived from these tests. The radioactivity left behind is palpable.
The military is engaged in a campaign to convince the public that the PFAS contamination it has caused on military bases around the world is being cleaned up and that it is safeguarding public health by complying with the EPA’s lifetime health advisory of 70 parts per trillion in drinking water. For the most part, both claims are false.
The following video features a press conference and conversation with Jon Mitchell about the extent of military contamination in Japan and tools used to uncover and shed light on the story. Jon Mitchell is a Special Correspondent for Okinawa Times and an Award Winner of FCCJ’s Freedom of the Press Lifetime Achievement Award. He is also chief contributor to our Okinawa section and esteemed member of the Civilian Exposure Journalist Advisory Board.
In most discussions in the media regarding Camp Lejeune water contamination, often the focus is given only to 4 core chemicals – TCE, PCE, benzene and vinyl chloride. While these were prevalent in extraordinary amounts in the groundwater and soil for decades at Lejeune, they are not the only chemicals that were found. According to the EPA, there were many more (at varying levels) determined as site contaminants and published as part of the original EPA Superfund listing.