Some of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean — such as the Bikini and Enewetak atolls — are still more radioactive than Chernobyl and Fukushima, even though more than 60 years have passed since the United States tested radioactive weapons on those islands, a new study finds.
When testing the soil for plutonium-239 and -240, the researchers found that some of the islands had levels that were between 10 and 1,000 times higher than those on Fukushima (where an earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown of nuclear reactors) and about 10 times higher than levels in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
The researchers took only a limited number of soil samples, meaning a more comprehensive survey is needed, they said. Regardless, they were surprised that neither national governments nor international organizations had “any further guidance on permissible plutonium levels in the soil,” even though levels in the Marshall Islands were high, the researchers wrote in the study.
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