Home EditorialContamination Chronicles Exposures at Enewetak and Shemya
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Exposures at Enewetak and Shemya

by Civilian Exposure

The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.


In 1977, I was sent TDY from Fort Eustis, Virginia to Enewetak Atoll to participate in the radiation cleanup.

Since that time, in 2002, I was diagnosed with lung cancer and they had to  remove all of that lung. In 2003,  I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. In that same year, I started having kidney problems, and was diagnosed with lupus.

Now in 2018, I’ve been put on oxygen full-time and continue to have infection in my lungs fighting to breathe. I also am taking 15 different prescription medicines. As you all have said in previous articles, the government keeps denying us.

We can get no help.

Please publish this. We served our country honorably and they give us this kind of crap.

Enewetak Cleanup Veteran

  • Author resides in Everett, Washington


Cleanup Update
to  From TCE to Radioactive Exposures –
Amchitka to Shemya

Received new information from USAF Veteran who was on Shemya in 1994, for a base closure “turn in team”.

The folllowing is in the May 20,1993 EPA letter requiring USAF to cleanup the TCE – “Based on the Air Force’s PA/SI information for Shemya, and the HRS score, our review indicates that the Site is eligible for proposal to the XPL. Hazardous substances are being released into the environment, and in particular, groundwater levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) may pose an unacceptable risk to base personnel.” ).

They were
responsible for removal of all HAZARDOUS waste from Shemya.

For protection, she was given a paper mask and neoprene gloves. There were 32 pallets of freeze damaged paint, and buildings full of hazardous waste, some of it as far back as WWII, but most was Vietnam and forward.

We sent out one sample for testing in a 10mm syringe. When the disposal report came back, it said to pack it in a sealed one gallon container, then a sealed 5 gallon lab pack, then a 55-gallon overpack drum.

Most of the empty barrels had ethylene glycol de-icing agent. There were insecticides and herbicides in bags that were solid blocks.

That is all she remembers but it was 24 years ago.

She is a Shemya and cancer survivor.

  • Author resides in Blairsville, Georgia


Note from the Editor: The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.

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