Saturday, October 10, 2020

Poisoning the Pacific

 A new book, 'Poisoning the Pacific'by journalist Jon Mitchell, is based on more than 12,000 pages of documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and through interviews with local residents, military veterans and researchers. The book argues that for decades, the US has treated its territories in the Pacific with negligence, allowing its military to violate indigenous rights, seize land, and damage delicate ecosystems. Mitchell’s book details US military operations over decades contaminating the Pacific with toxic substances including radioactive waste, nerve agents, and dioxin-tainted Agent Orange. 'Poisoning the Pacific' details ongoing environmental damages and risk to human health.

“US authorities have repeatedly tried to cover up contamination through lies, disinformation and attacks on reporters,” Mitchell told The Guardian.

The ‘Dome’ on Runit island in the Marshall Islands - a sovereign nation in compact of free association with the US - is a massive concrete tomb where the US has stored more than 70,000m3 of radioactive debris, including plutonium-239, left over from US post-war atomic tests. Irradiated soil from Nevada was also transported to the island and dumped. The dome is leaking radioactive material into the sea, the US department of energy concedes, though it says the amount is not dangerous. Successive US administrations have said the dome is the Marshall Islands’ responsibility.

The book documents “the US Army disposing of 29 million kilograms of mustard agent and nerve agents, and 454 tons of radioactive waste” into the Pacific Ocean, as well as the US military’s use of nerve agents, including sarin, which US government documents confirm were leaked into the environment while slated for destruction on Johnston Atoll near Hawaii.

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