Description: The detonation of shot one at Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954, produced a fallout of radioactive ash upon Rongelap Atoll, Marshall Islands. The distribution of the radioactive ash on the islands and in the plants and animals of the area has been studied and evaluated. During the first expedition to Rongelap Atoll on March 26, 1954, biological samples were collected and measurements made of the radiation contamination. On three additional expeditions extensive collections of material were made for this study, the last on January 25-30, 1955. The decline in radioactivity was measured in 1499 samples of fish, invertebrates, land plants, algae, birds, plankton, soil, and water from the Rongelap area. During this study particular emphasis was placed upon evaluation of the radioactivity in food used by the natives. Coconut milk collected on March 26, 1954, contained 1.03 microcuries per kilogram of wet tissue while the coconut meat had 1.16 mu c/kg. By January 25-30, 1955, the level in coconut milk had declined to 0.041 mu c/kg and the meat to 0.036 mu c/ kg. Fish muscle on March 26, 1954, averaged 2.74 mu c/kg and fish liver 204.0 mu c/kg. The decline to January 25-30 was 0.10 mu c/kg for the muscle and 3.52 mu c/kg for the liver of fish. Somewhat similar declines were found for clam muscle, crab muscle, bird muscle and liver, and for squash, papaya, arrowroot and pandanus. The level of radioactivity was highest in the northern portion of the atoll, except for samples of algae and fish-eating birds, collected during January 1955 from the southern part of the atoll, which had higher levels of radioactivity than samples collected from the northern islands on the same date. This may indicate a translocation of radioactive materials within the lagoon. (auth)
Date: July 5, 1957
Creator: Berkley, K.M. & Pearse, H.E.
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department