UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his concerns about the "Runit Dome" in the Marshall Islands. He mentioned this while interacting with students in Fiji and sounded the alarm. The dome was built in the 1970s to accommodate a nuclear coffin. It contains Nuclear Waste generated by the US and France in French Polynesia and the Marshall Islands from the Cold War era. The UN Secretary-General feels there are possibilities of the harmful nuclear waste leaking into the Pacific Ocean creating environmental issues.

The Daily Mail UK reports that Antonio Guterres had talked with Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands.

It appears she is worried because of risks of leakage of radioactive materials to the surroundings. That would have far-reaching consequences. The UN Secretary-General feels the situation could lead to associated problems related to health and would have an impact on local communities.

'Runit Dome' is an environmental issue

Antonio Guterres is currently on a tour of South Pacific nations. His agenda is to discuss and highlight the global effects of Climate change. One of the changes is sea level rise which poses a considerable amount of threat to low-lying Pacific island nations.

He brought up the subject of the ‘nuclear coffin.’ 18-inch thick concrete walls act as reinforcement and it covers a huge crater left behind by a nuclear blast test. The locals vacated the area after the blast and even now avoid going near it. An Australian journalist Mark Willacy talked about it in his report published in 2017.

Daily Mail UK goes on to add Washington funded the construction of the "Runit Dome." However, the nature of the sand and soil at the bottom is permeable. In other words, the nuclear waste stored in the dome could gradually escape into the surroundings and find its way into the ocean.

The locals are aware of the environmental hazards created in their region for decades. Many have fled their homes. Those who remained risked exposure to radioactive waste. The matter is serious and the authorities must evolve some solution.

History of the 'Runit Dome'

According to Express UK, Runit Island is part of the Enewetak Atoll, a ring-shaped coral structure made up of lots of little islands. During the period 1946-58, America carried out testing of sixty-seven nuclear weapons. It included the 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test. This was much more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In order to clean up the nuclear waste, the radioactive soil and ash from the explosions went into a crater made on the island and covered with an 18 inches thick concrete dome.

There was no protection on the bottom of the crater and this is now a matter of concern. Moreover, cracks are appearing on the concrete cover after long years of exposure to the elements and the nuclear coffin could disintegrate.