Remembering Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Aotearoa New Zealand
1 March 2012
Today is Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day, the 58th anniversary of the day the US 'Bravo' nuclear bomb was detonated close to the surface of Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.
The explosion created a fireball four miles wide that vaporized the entire 'test' island and parts of two others, leaving a hole in Bikini's lagoon one mile wide and 200 feet deep. The fireball contained huge quantities of radioactive coral and water particles, which were sucked up with the force of the blast and distributed far and wide across the Pacific - the nuclear fallout covered an area of 7,000 square miles.
The island of Rongelap (100 miles away) was dusted with powdery radioactive particles to a depth of one and a half inches, and Utrik (300 miles away) was swathed in radioactive mist. The people of Rongelap and Utrik lived on their newly radioactive islands for three days, inhaling, touching and ingesting the fallout particles, until the US navy belatedly sent ships to evacuate them.
Just four months later the Utrik people were returned to their island, and in 1957 the Rongelap people were returned to theirs, after the US government claimed it had 'cleaned up' the radioactivity - subsequently proved to continue to persist at a high level.
This year, New Zealanders have the opportunity to help turn the hope of a nuclear weapons-free Pacific, and indeed a nuclear weapons-free world, into a reality by adding their signatures to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Aotearoa New Zealand (iCAN ANZ) petition to parliament.
The petition calls on the New Zealand government to actively engage with like-minded governments committed to abolishing nuclear weapons to launch, without delay, an initiative to start the process of negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention; and it will be considered by a parliamentary Select Committee later this month. The petition form is available on the iCAN ANZ website at http://www.icanw.org.nz
The final deadline for return of signatures on the iCAN ANZ petition is 15 March 2012.