THE NUCLEAR LEGACY
OF BIKINI ATOLL
Bikini Atoll’s isolated location and relatively small population made it an ideal site for the United States to test its nuclear bombs in the mid-20th century. After convincing the Bikinians to vacate their land “for the good of mankind” the USA conducted 23 nuclear tests on the atoll, including the largest in US history. From 1946 to 1958, Bikini Atoll endured detonations so powerful that three of its islands were completely vaporized and the entire atoll was rendered completely uninhabitable even to this day.
In exchange for their home, the Bikinians were relocated to other islands — islands which weren’t equipped to support them. With inadequate land and infrastructure, poisonous fish, and no potable water, the Bikinians were starving within weeks. Even now, Bikinians rely on government subsidies to merely get by.
Timeline and sizes of Bikini Detonations
What is a megaton?
A 1Kt blast would wipe out the southern tip of Manhattan
A 1Mt blast would wipe out most of New York City and urban New Jersey.
Nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll
Nuclear testing in
the Pacific with
The Largest Nuclear Detonations in Human History
The 23 nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll were conducted on barges, underwater and from airdrops. Three of the tests would have singlehandedly wiped out New York City, Los Angeles or Shanghai several times over. The US government promised to return the islands to the Bikinians in the same condition in which they were received. But with forces so powerful set upon the atoll, its appearance would be forever changed. With a disfigured landscape, vaporized islands and devastating environmental damage (radiation, toxic water, inedible seafood, and unfarmable soil) the displaced people of Bikini are simply unable to return home.
March 1, 1954 marked the largest and most serious weapon test ever conducted by the United States — and one of the most destructive nuclear explosions in human history (1000x larger than Hiroshima). The “Castle Bravo” blast created a mile-wide crater at the detonation site that is visible to this day.
1019.31 mi2 / 2,640 km2
THE Fallout from Bravo
Design error and poor weather conditions caused Castle Bravo’s nuclear fallout to stretch over 11,000 kilometers. What was intended to be a 5 megaton explosion ultimately became a devastating 15 megaton blast so powerful that traces of its radioactive material were found in Japan, Australia, India, and even parts of Europe and the United States.