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Enewetak Atoll

Little is known about the enewetak atoll and the For 8 years, from 1972 until 1980, the United States planned and carriedout the radiological cleanup, rehabilitation, and resettlement of EnewetakAtoll in the Marshall Islands. This project represented the fulfillment of along-standing moral commitment to the People of Enewetak. The cleanupitself, executed by the Department of Defense (DOD), was an extensiveeffort, involving a Joint Task Force staff and numerous Army, Navy, andAir Force units and personnel. The rehabilitation and resettlement project,carried out by the Department of the Interior concurrently with thecleanup, added complexity to the task and required the closestcoordination - as did the important involvement of the Department ofEnergy (DOE), responsible for radiological characterization andcertification. The combined effort cost about $100 million and required anon-atoll task force numbering almost 1,000 people for 3 years, 1977-1980.No radiological cleanup operation of this scope and complexity has everbefore been attempted by the United States.This documentary records, from the perspective of DOD, thebackground, decisions, actions, and results of this major national andinternational effort. Every attempt has been made .to record issues as theydeveloped, and to show the results, good and bad, of specific decisions,oversights, etc. Because this documentary may have considerableimportance in the future, and because specific needs for data cannot beforeseen with accuracy, every attempt has been made to record in somedetail all major facets of the operation and to reference key documents.Throughout the research, collection, and writing, four major types ofpotential users have been kept in-mind. The d,ocumentary is designed:- First, to provide a historical document which records with accuracythis major event in the history of Enewetak Atoll, the Marshall Islands,the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Micronesia, the Pacific Basin,and the United States. To serve this end, the documentary addressespolitical, legal, administrative, and social issues; and it attempts to put thecleanup in perspective in terms of the prior history of Enewetak Atoll,World War II, the nuclear testing period, and the United NationsTrusteeship.- Second, to provide a definitive record of the radiologicalcontamination of the Atoll. It addresses the origins of the contaminationon a shot-by-shot basis; the types, concentrations, and locations ofcontamination prior to the cleanup; the radiological cleanup decisions andtheir rationale; the cleanup processes themselves; and the resultingradiological situation, island-by-island. It is believed that this type of datauill be useful over the coming decades as living patterns on the Atollchange, new radiological surveys are taken, improved health physics. understanding becomes available, and new risk-benefit decisions aremade. For this purpose this documentary will supplement the moretechnical data published by DOE.- Third, to provide a detailed record of the radiological exposure of thecleanup forces themselves. As years pass, it will become increasinglyimportant to the cleanup participants, to the U.S. Government, and tohealth physicists and radiation biologists, to have a meticulously accuraterecord of the radiological safety policies and procedures; an overview ofpersonnel assignment practices; and a careful summarization of airsampler readings, film badge and thermoluminescent dosimeterexposures, bioassay samples, etc.- Fourth, to provide a useful guide for subsequent radiological cleanupefforts elsewhere. It seems likely that there will be future requirements forradiological cleanup of extensive areas which present complexcontamination problems. Since the Enewetak cleanup was a bellwethereffort of its kind, the many lessons learned should provide useful guidancefor those who will plan and execute future efforts. Information such as thisis quickly lost if not permanently recorded.In developing this documentary, every effort has been made to beaccurate, balanced, and objective. However, since issues can appear insomewhat different light when viewed from different organizationalperspectives, the reader should keep in mind that the authors generallyhave a DOD affiliation.

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