Congress Demands Investigation Into the U.S.’s Nuclear Coffin via Popular Mechanics

The Runit Dome is leaking radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean.

By Kyle Mizokami
Dec 27, 2019

The U.S. Congress has ordered an investigation into the so-called “Runit Dome,” a concrete dome containing contaminated radioactive debris leftover from nuclear weapons tests. The Department of Energy (DOE) has six months to report back on the status of the dome, which is apparently cracked and filling with seawater. Nuclear activists and others worry that a larger leak could threaten to spill radioactive waste over a wide area.


The dome contains 110,000 cubic yards of radioactive contaminated soil and 6,000 cubic yards of contaminated debris. In 1980, the U.S. government built a concrete dome 18 inches thick over the crater, sealing the radioactive contents inside.

Unfortunately, the government failed to build a concrete lining for the debris, and the dome is currently threatened by rising sea levels. Sea water has reportedly entered the dome, introducing the possibility that radioactive waste could seep out. The Marshall Islands government, which was saddled with responsibility for the dome, is worried that further deterioration could create an environmental hazard. A typhoon could create an all-out hazard.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, otherwise known as the 2020 defense budget, directs the DOE to investigate “the status of the Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands” and the dangers posed by potential leaks. 

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