The Manhattan Project Resources

U.S. Department of Energy

Office of Environment, Health, Safety and Security

Office of History and Heritage Resources

Declassification of Marshall Islands Atmospheric Nuclear Test Documents

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the Press Secretary, Washington, DC 20585


Declassification of Marshall Islands Atmospheric Nuclear Test Documents

Table of Contents

Specifically
Background
Benefits
Who Are the Key Stakeholders?
Contact
Questions and Answers

The Department of Energy is releasing previously classified documents on atmospheric nuclear testing that took place in the Marshall Islands during the Cold War.

Specifically

Background

Benefits

Who Are the Key Stakeholders?

Contact

U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Public Affairs
Contact: Sam Grizzle
(202) 586-5806


U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the Press Secretary, Washington, DC 20585


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q. What initiated the request for disclosure of information regarding the effects of fallout on the atolls and people of the Marshall Islands?

A. Congressman Miller has requested disclosure of information regarding America's nuclear testing program, but raised concerns that there may be additional important information that has been withheld from Congress and the Marshallese regarding the Pacific testing program. His letter was received by the Department on December 10, 1994. As a component of the Department's December 1993 Openness Initiative and in response to Congressman Miller's request the Department initiated an extensive search for Marshall Islands documents located in laboratory and facility record centers throughout the Department of Energy complex.

Q. What specific areas of information were identified by Congressman George Miller for which documentation is desired?

A. Congressman Miller is interested in documents, including correspondence, memoranda, studies, reports, and surveys that related to the scope, extent and effects of the radioactive fallout and to Department of Energy/Atomic Energy Commission's knowledge of the potential or actual health and environmental consequences of the nuclear testing program to the Marshallese people and their homelands.

Q. What input from the Republic of the Marshall Islands shaped the scope and the issues that were of concern about nuclear testing that was conducted in the Marshall Islands in the 1940's and 1950's?

A. On February 14, 1994, Mr. Thomas D. Kijiner, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Marshall Islands, also wrote the Department of Energy requesting disclosure of similar, but more detailed information regarding ten areas of interest to the people of the Marshall Islands.

Q. When were the first documents declassified and pertinent unclassified documents made available to Congressman George Miller from those held at Headquarters, Department of Energy?

A. Congressman Miller's staff received declassified Marshall Islands documents on February 28, 1994. An additional 35 already unclassified documents were provided to Congressman Miller in two initial letters covering medical followup of exposed Marshallese populations at Rongelap and Utrik Atoll and detailed reviews of the Department's environmental monitoring programs over the past 20 years.

Q. What was the outcome of the Department of Energy wide search for pertinent documents that addressed the concerns raised by Congressman George Miller and by the Republic of Marshall Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs?

A. The Department completed its search for unclassified documents in late May 1994. Over 430 previously unclassified records in 26 boxes were prepared and presented to the Republic of the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington, D.C. on May 31, 1994. The documents included those declassified documents that were forwarded to Congressman George Miller on February 28, 1994. The collection also includes a chronology of the Marshall Islands and four boxes of indexes to Marshall Islands documents available at the Department of Energy's Coordination and Information Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as documents located at other locations.

Q. What kind of data was covered by the documents retrieved by this Departmental search for Marshall Islands records?

A. Documents found provide additional information on the fission fallout products, fallout patterns, and associated atoll dose levels of the important Pacific tests, many memoranda and documents related to the decision to detonate test "Bravo," similar data on test "Mike," and records on the radiological cleanup of Enewetak Atoll. To facilitate congressional and Marshall Islands review, a set of indexes was developed.

Q. Were the 26 boxes of over 430 documents provided to the Republic of Marshall Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Phillip Muller?

A. A separate delivery was forwarded through the Department's Pacific Area Support Office and was delivered by courier to Majuro, Marshall Islands arriving on June 20, 1994. American Ambassador David Fields formally presented these documents to Minister Muller on June 23, 1994, to facilitate their use within the Marshall Islands.

Q. An effort was made to identify all documents that are still classified that are pertinent and to accelerate their declassification. When will the commitment to provide all these declassified documents be fulfilled?

A. About 1,500 pages of recently declassified documents and additional unclassified documents are being provided to the representatives of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and to Congressman George Miller by June 30, 1994. These recently declassified documents are the ones found after an extensive Department-wide search.

Q. Will these documents be made available for public review and to members of Congress, if desired?

A. Yes, copies have been made available to Congress and can also be reviewed at the Department's Forrestal reading room by interested parties.


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