This week marks the anniversary of the last atomic test in the Marshall Islands. Sixty-one years ago, on August 18, 1958, the 67th nuclear device, code-named “Fig” was detonated on the surface of Enewetak Atoll. This event marked the end of the U.S. nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands.
To mark this historic event, the RMI National Nuclear Commission submitted a “Nuclear Justice Strategy” to RMI President Hilda Heine and her cabinet officials.
The commission, in a release, said they recognize the people continue to suffer from the consequences and damages of the nuclear tests that remain unaddressed to this day.
According to the commission, the strategy recognizes that any nuclear justice actions under consideration by the RMI today should “build on the legacy of strength and resilience of the Marshallese nuclear heroes and heroines who fought and continue to demand accountability for their communities.”
The cited people like the late climate change activist Tony deBrum and others who challenged the nuclear injustices experienced by their community and demanded accountability from the U.S. Government.
The commission mentioned three areas of priority. The list includes health and environmental justice and compensation for health and property damages and injuries adjudicated by the Nuclear Claims tribunal.
With the strategy, the commission said they are committed to fulfilling its role in supporting efforts toward nuclear justice.
But while the Marshall Islands continues its struggle for nuclear justice, the release of a beer product by the Manhattan Project Beer Company drew a great deal of outrage in the Marshall Islands.
The beer product is named after Bikini Atoll — one of the well-known nuclear testing sites — and prominently features the map of the area.
In an official release, the commission says: “The anger of the Marshallese people is understandable. This is just another example of an American entity profiting from the appropriation of names and places that do not belong to them …”
“Bikini is not a beer, a bathing suit, or the home of Spongebob Squarepants. It is the ancestral homelands of the Bikinian people who cannot reside there today because of lingering radiation from U.S. nuclear weapons tests conducted on the islands during the Cold War.”
The commission calls on the Manhattan Project Beer Company — the makers of the beer — to engage in dialogue with the people of Bikini Atoll and to hear directly from community members about their reaction to the product.
The commission also wants the Manhattan Project Beer Company to include an online link on their website to help educate the community about residual radiation levels on Bikini Atoll.