Cautionary Tales From a Nuclear War Zone


John Anjain, Alab of Rongelap, Marshall Islands:

Early in the morning of March 1, 1954, sometime around five or six o’clock, American planes dropped a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll. Shortly before this happened, I had awakened and stepped out of my house. Once outside, I looked around and saw Billiet Edmond making coffee near his house. I walked up and stood next to him. The two of us talked about going fishing later in the morning. After only a few minutes had passed we saw a light to the west of Rongelap Atoll. When this light reached Rongelap we saw many beautiful colors. I expect the reason people didn’t go inside their houses right away was because the yellow, green, pink, red, and blue colors which they saw were such a beautiful sight before their eyes.

The second thing that happened involved the gust of wind that came from the explosion. The wind was so hot and strong that some people who were outside staggered, including Billiet and I. Even some windows fell as a result of the wind.

The third thing that happened concerned the smoke-cloud which we saw from the bomb blast. The smoke rose quickly to the clouds and as it reached them we heard a sound louder than thunder. When people heard this deafening clap some of the women and children fled to the woods. Once the sound of the explosion had died out everyone began cooking, some made donuts and others cooked rice.

Later some men went fishing, including myself. Around nine or ten-o’clock I took my throw net and left to go fishing near Jabwon. As I walked along the beach I looked at the sky and saw it was white like smoke; nevertheless I kept on going. When I reached Jabwon, or even a little before, I began to feel a fine powder falling all over my body and into my eyes. I felt it but I didn’t know what it was.

I went ahead with my fishing and caught enough fish with my throw-net to fill a bag. Then I went to the woods to pick some coconuts. I came back to the beach and sat on a rock to drink the coconuts and eat some raw fish. As I was sitting and eating, the powder began to fall harder. I looked out and saw that the coconuts had changed color. By now all the trees were white as well as my entire body. I gazed up at the sky but couldn’t see the clouds because it was so misty. I didn’t believe this was dangerous. I only knew that powder was falling. I was somewhat afraid nevertheless.

When I returned to Rongelap village I saw people cooking food outside their cook-houses. They didn’t know the powder was very dangerous. The powder fell all day and night long over the entire atoll of Rongelap. During the night people were sick. They were nauseous, they had stomach, head, ear, leg and shoulder aches. People did not sleep that night because they were sick.

The next day, March 2, 1954, people got up in the morning and went down to get water. It had turned a yellowish color. “Oh, Oh” they cried out and said “the powder that fell down yesterday and last night is a harmful thing.” They were sick and so Jabwe, the health-aide, walked around in the morning and warned the people not to drink the water. He told them that if they were thirsty to drink coconuts only.

. . . At three o’clock in the afternoon of March 2, 1954 a seaplane from Enewetak Atoll landed in the lagoon of Rongelap and two men came ashore. Billiet and I asked them why they had come to Rongelap and they responded by saying they had come to inspect the damage caused by the bomb. They said they would spend twenty minutes looking at all the wells, cement water catchments, houses and other things. The two men returned quickly to their plane and left without telling anyone that the food, water, and other things were harmful to human beings.

Everyone was quite surprised at the speed with which the men surveyed everything in the island and then returned to their plane. People said maybe we’ve been really harmed because the men were in such a hurry to leave. Although they said they would look around for about twenty minutes, they probably didn’t stay here for more than ten minutes. So in less than ten minutes after their arrival on Rongelap, the two men had already taken off.

. . . On that day we looked at the water catchments, tubs and other places where there was a great deal of water stored. The water had turned a strong yellow and those who drank it said it tasted bitter.

On March 3, early in the morning, a ship and a seaplane with four propellers appeared on Rongelap. Out of the plane came Mr. Oscar de[Brum] – and Mr. Wiles, the governor of Kwajelein Atoll. As their boat reached the shore, Mr. Oscar cried out to the people to get on board and forget about their personal belongings for whoever thought of staying behind would die. Such were the words by which he spoke to them. Therefore, none of the people went back to their houses, but immediately got on the boats and sailed to board the ship that would take them away. Those who were sick and old were evacuated by plane.

. . . At ten o’clock in the morning we left Rongelap for Ailinginae Atoll and arrived there at three in the afternoon. We picked up nineteen people on this atoll and by five o’clock we were on our way to Kwajalein.

On March 4, we arrived on Kwajalein and met the Admiral who then sent us to where we were to stay. A day later, Dr. Conard and his medical team arrived. The doctors were very thorough in checking and caring for our injuries and showed much concern in examining us. The Admiral was also very concerned about our situation and took us in as if we were his own children. His name was Admiral Clark.

Ever since 1954 Dr. Conard has continued to examine the fallout victims on a yearly basis. These visits are very important for all the people on Rongelap and others in the Marshall Islands. These medical examinations are also of great importance for men throughout the world.

. . . From 1959 to 1963 and 1964, after the Rongelapese had returned to Rongelap from Majuro, many women gave birth prematurely to babies which looked somewhat like animals. Women also had miscarriages. During these years many other strange things happened with regard to food, especially to fish in which the fertilized eggs and liver turned a blackish color. In all my forty years I had never seen this happen in fish either on Rongelap or in any of the other places I’ve been in the Marshall Islands. Also, when people ate fish or [arrowroot] starch produced on Rongelap, they developed a rash in their mouths. This too I had never seen before.

. . . I, John, Anjain, was magistrate of Rongelap when all this occurred and I now write this to explain what happened to the Rongelap people at that time.

[In 1954] the people of Rongelap stayed on Kwajalein for three months and the DOE [Atomic Energy Commission] people removed the Rongelap people to Majuro. The people lived in Majuro for three years and in 1956 the DOE, Trust Territory government and the UN came to Majuro and I went with them to attend a meeting with them at the school in Rita. And they told me that it is time that we go back home. And I asked “are we really going home while Rongelap is contaminated?” And the answer that they give me is that “it is true that Rongelap is contaminated but it is not dangerous. And if you don’t believe us, well then stay here and take care of yourself.”

. . . In 1957 the people returned to Rongelap and the DOE promised that there wouldn’t be any problems to the Rongelap people. However in 1958 and 1959 most of the women gave birth to something that was not resembling human beings. There was a woman giving birth to a grape. Another woman gave birth to something that resembles a monkey. And so on. There was a child born at that time and there was no shell covering the top of that child’s head.

The American doctors came every year to examine us. Every year they came, and they told us that we were not sick, and then they would return the next year. But they did find something wrong. They found one boy did not grow as fast as boys his age. They gave him medicine. Then they began finding the thyroid sickness.

My son Lekoj was thirteen when they found his thyroid was sick. They took him away to a hospital in America. They cut out his thyroid. They gave him some medicine and told him to take it every day for the rest of his life. The same thing happened to other people. The doctors kept returning and examining us. Several years ago, they took me to a hospital in America, and they cut out my thyroid. They gave me medicine and told me to take it every day for the rest of my life.

A few years after the bomb, Senator Amata Kabua tried to get some compensation for the people of Rongelap. He got a lawyer, and the lawyer made a case in court. The court turned our case down. The court said it could not consider our case because we were not part of the United States. Dwight Heine went to the United Nations to tell them about us. People from the United Nations came to see us, and we told them how we felt. Finally, in 1964, the U.S. Congress passed a bill. The bill gave us money as a payment for our experience. Some of the people spent all their money; some of them still have money in the bank. After we got the money, they began finding the thyroid sickness.

In 1972, they took Lekoj away again. They said they wanted to examine him. They took him to America to a big hospital near Washington. Later, they took me to this hospital near Washington because they said he was very sick. My son Lekoj died after [I] arrived. He never saw his island again. He returned home in a box. He is buried on our island. The doctors say he had a sickness called leukemia. They are quite sure it was from the bomb.

But I am positive.

I saw the ash fall on him. I know it was the bomb. I watched him die.


Statement of Almira Matayoshi to the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, Marshall Islands (2001):

I was pregnant when they dropped the bomb [Bravo]. I was flown off of Rongelap with the other pregnant women and elderly people. The rest of the people left on the boat. I gave birth to Robert on Ejit, and he was normal. The child I had after Robert, when we had returned to Rongelap, I gave birth to something that was like grapes. I felt like I was going to die from the loss of blood. My vision was gone, and I was fading in and out of consciousness. They emergency evacuated me to Kwajalein, and I was sure I was going to die. After the grapes, I had a third child. It wasn’t like a child at all. It had no bones and was all skin. When I gave birth they said, “Ak ta men en?” [What is that thing?]. Mama said uror [a term denoting exacerbation]. It was the first strange child that people had seen. I was the first. That time was the worst in my life. I feel both angry and embarrassed.


What words can possibly communicate what it is like to see and survive such sights? To become increasingly fearful that the intense beauty of your world-the water, the sand, the plants, the soil, the sea, and all the creatures within-has been fundamentally transformed by invisible, untouchable, all-encompassing poison? After years and years of living in a radioactive laboratory as the subject of scrutiny and study, what does it mean to find your fears confirmed-that your favorite foods are taboo, that your loved ones grow old before their time and your children fail to thrive? What does it mean to “survive” downwind from the the United States proving grounds – where nuclear war was practiced and perfected by Cold War warriors?

In 1946, after evacuating the people of Bikini and nearby atoll communities in the Marshall Islands, the United States detonated two atomic weapons: the same type of bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. In 1947 the United Nations designated the Marshall Islands a United States Trust Territory. Over the next eleven years, this U.S. territory played host to another sixty-five atmospheric atomic and thermonuclear tests. The largest of these tests, code named Bravo, was detonated on March 1, 1954. This 15-megaton hydrogen bomb was purposefully exploded close to the ground. It melted huge quantities of coral atoll, sucking it up and mixing it with radiation released by the weapon before depositing it on the islands and inhabitants in the form of ash, or radioactive fallout. The wind was blowing that morning in the direction of inhabited atolls, including Rongelap and Utrik, some 100 and 300 miles from the test site at Bikini. The Marshallese communities on Rongelap, Ailinginae, and Utrik atolls, U.S. servicemen on Rongerik Atoll (weathermen who were monitoring winds and fallout), and the twenty-three-man crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon) received near-lethal doses of radiation from the Bravo event.

International protests and calls for a ban on nuclear weapons testing prompted the U.S. government to publicly acknowledge the incident and accept liability. The Marshallese filed an April 20, 1954, complaint to the United Nations Trusteeship Council:

We, the Marshallese people feel that we must follow the dictates of our consciences to bring forth this urgent plea to the United Nations, which has pledged itself to safeguard the life, liberty and the general well being of the people of the Trust Territory, of which the Marshallese people are a part.

. . . The Marshallese people are not only fearful of the danger to their persons from these deadly weapons in case of another miscalculation, but they are also very concerned for the increasing number of people who are being removed from their land.

. . . Land means a great deal to the Marshallese. It means more than just a place where you can plant your food crops and build your houses; or a place where you can bury your dead. It is the very life of the people. Take away their land and their spirits go also.

In response to this petition the United States assured the General Assembly of the United Nations:

The fact that anyone was injured by recent nuclear tests in the Pacific has caused the American people genuine and deep regret. . . . The United States Government considers the resulting petition of the Marshall Islanders to be both reasonable and helpful. . . . The Trusteeship Agreement of 1947 which covers the Marshall Islands was predicated upon the fact that the United Nations clearly approved these islands as a strategic area in which atomic tests had already been held. Hence, from the onset, it was clear that the right to close areas for security reasons anticipated closing them for atomic tests, and the United Nations was so notified; such tests were conducted in 1948, 1951, 1952 as well as in 1954. . . . The question is whether the United States authorities in charge have exercised due precaution in looking after the safety and welfare of the Islanders involved. That is the essence of their petition and it is entirely justified. In reply, it can be categorically stated that no stone will be left unturned to safeguard the present and future well-being of the Islanders.

The United States promised the Marshallese and the United Nations General Assembly that “Guarantees are given the Marshallese for fair and just compensation for losses of all sorts.”

These guarantees worked: the United States was able to continue its atmospheric weapons testing program in the Marshall Islands through 1958 and at its Nevada test site through 1963, when the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union finally signed on to a limited test ban treaty.

The United States has not, however, fully lived up to its promises to the United Nations or the Marshallese people to safeguard their well-being. Atmospheric weapons testing in the Pacific resulted in considerable human and environmental harm.

Atmospheric nuclear weapons tests released numerous radioisotopes and dangerous heavy metals. An estimated 2 percent of the radioactive fallout was iodine-131, a highly radioactive isotope with an 8-day half-life. The nuclear war games conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands released some 8 billion curies of iodine-131. To place this figure in broader context, over the entire history of nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Proving Grounds, some 150 million curies of iodine-131 were released, and varying analyses of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster estimate an iodine-131 release of 40 to 54 million curies. Much of the iodine-131 released in the Marshall Islands was the by-product of the March 1, 1954, Bravo test detonation of the hydrogen bomb. Designed to produce and contain as much radioactive fallout in the immediate area as possible, in order to create laboratory-like conditions, Bravo unleashed as much explosive yield as one thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs. Communities living downwind from the blast, especially the Rongelap community, were acutely exposed to its fallout.

Evacuated three days after the blast, the people of Rongelap spent three months under intense medical scrutiny as human subjects in Project 4.1. They spent three years as refugees and were returned to their still-contaminated atoll in 1957 with assurances that their islands were now safe. They lived on Rongelap for another twenty-eight years and as the closest populated atoll to the Pacific Proving Grounds, they were exposed to additional fallout from another series of nuclear tests in 1958. While living on Rongelap, the community was visited annually, and later biannually, by U.S. government scientists and medical doctors conducting follow-up studies begun under Project 4.1. Researchers collected fish, plants, soil, and human body samples to document the presence of radioisotopes deposited from sixty-seven tests, the movement of these isotopes through the food chain and the human body, and the adverse health impact of this radiation on the human body.

The community left Rongelap in 1985 after receiving information from some U.S. scientists that confirmed their long-held fears that their ancestral homeland was contaminated with radiation at levels that posed a serious risk to their health. Today, the Rongelap community lives in exile, largely on borrowed or rented lands in Kwajalein and Majuro atolls. Recent efforts to remediate fallout hazards on areas of some islands and to rebuild homes and community structure on the island of Rongelap suggest that the community may, someday soon, have the choice of returning home. Whether or not remediation is successful and people decide to return remains to be seenŠ

The people of Rongelap are not the only nuclear nomads created by the actions of military and nuclear powers over the past six decades. They are, however, one of the most studied communities.

Following their acute exposure in 1954 the people of Rongelap enrolled in a medical research program sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission. The program was designed to document the movement of radiation through the atmosphere, food chain, and human body, with the goal of understanding the long-term effects of human exposure to ionizing radiation.

Over the years, U.S. scientists added to the research program “control” subjects, including people on Rongelap who were not present during the Bravo test, people on the nearby atoll of Utrik, people on Likiep (another populated atoll in the northern Marshall Islands), and people on Majuro. Control subjects were typically selected to match the acutely exposed by age and sex, and scientists studied these people in many instances for four decades. Comparative studies documented increases in thyroid disorders, stunted growth in children, and increases in many forms of cancer and leukemia, cataracts, and other radiation-related illnesses.

For four decades, U.S. government scientists returned to the Marshall Islands to conduct exams and collect blood, tissue, bone marrow, teeth, and other samples. These studies generated a broad array of scientific findings, including the recognition that not only can acute exposures to radiation stimulate short-term effects but that late effects can emerge years and decades following the initial exposure. For example, by studying the Marshallese population, scientists found that radio-iodine-131 adheres to and accumulates in the thyroid, stimulating the production of benign and cancerous nodules and interfering with the production of hormones, leaving pregnant women and children especially vulnerable. They also discovered that people who were not exposed to an acute level of ionizing radiation but were exposed to low-levels on a daily basis because they lived in an area contaminated by fallout also developed thyroid and other radiogenic problems. The lessons learned by scientists included an awareness of the many complicated ways that radiation adversely affects the human body.

The Rongelap study was structured in ways that required the involvement of children from other atolls, especially children in the southern part of the nation. Such involvement extended over decades. Control subjects were selected at the direction of authorities. Being singled out resulted in social stigmatization (people were shunned because of the social perception that all people studied by the medical survey team were damaged by radiation). Control subject experiences included thorough examinations with photographs and x-rays; measurement of internal radiation with whole-body counters; the sampling of blood, bone marrow, skin, and other tissue; and, on a number of occasions, the injection of radioisotopes, vaccines, and other nonexplained substances. The experience of serving as a research control was intrusive, painful, and potentially harmful to the health of the participant.

The research agenda was shaped to meet U.S. military and scientific research objectives rather than the personal health needs of the affected population. The pressing question for the U.S. government was how to document and interpret the Marshallese experience in ways that might predict the consequences for U.S. troops or U.S. citizens exposed to radiation in the event of nuclear war. Marshallese health concerns, especially worries that radiation from fallout remained in their environment, poisoning their food and their bodies, were often ignored.

The classified nature of this research had profound effects within the Marshall Islands and within the broader scientific research community. Research protocols, data, and findings were restricted to those with security clearance. Patients, and later the Marshall Islands government, were denied access to medical records generated by this research.

This biomedical research was conducted by Brookhaven National Laboratory with monies appropriated by the U.S. Congress for the health of the Rongelap people. However, rather than investments in local health infrastructure, funds were used to periodically transport medical staff and supplies from the United States to the Marshall Islands for brief examinations of the “exposed” and “control” populations; to analyze the samples that were collected; to occasionally treat conditions that were defined as radiogenic in nature; and, in later years, to acquire and supply a ship with the necessary technology to conduct whole-body counting, x-ray, and other laboratory procedures. Some of the residents who developed thyroid tumors and other radiogenic conditions were brought to the United States for study and surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

When the U.S. government states that it has provided millions of dollars to the Marshall Islands for issues related to the weapons testing, it does not mention that enormous portions of this money went into advancing U.S. scientific interests, not into services for the people.

The culture of secrecy that characterized biomedical research in the Marshall Islands facilitated efforts to shape public opinion on the safety of the nuclear weapons testing program. Scientific findings were cherry-picked: those studies released to the public were carefully selected; conclusions were carefully worded to support the contention that exposed communities suffered no lasting effects from their exposure and that their exposure presented no threat to the health of subsequent generations. Manipulated “findings” were used to counter calls within the United Nations to establish a ban on nuclear weapons testing; to calm local and regional complaints that exposure to radiation was producing a wide array of untreated health effects, especially reproductive effects; and to reduce the economic liability of the U.S. government in meeting its obligations to its former territory.

As the decades passed, people experienced a growing incidence of adverse health effects, most notably the late onset of thyroid cancer and stunted growth and retardation in children in “exposed” as well as “control” populations. These health problems fed concerns that Rongelap Atoll was still dangerously contaminated and posed a significant hazard to occupants, a fact that became evident in the restudy of radiological conditions in the northern Marshall Islands in 1978. The results of this survey and the input of a few independent foreign experts led the Rongelapese to evacuate their homes in 1985, with the assistance of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior on what proved to be its final voyage in the Pacific. The evacuation of Rongelap occurred without the assistance or approval of the U.S. government. The restudy confirmed that much of the northern Marshall Islands was indeed still contaminated and that some areas would not be habitable without extensive remediation for at least twenty-five thousand years.

In 1986, after years of negotiations and the threat of some $7.1 billion in damage claims making their way through the U.S. court system, the United States and the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association, releasing the U.S. government from pending legal claims through the establishment of a compensation trust fund. The Compact of Free Association requires the United States to continue efforts to adequately address the full range of damages and injuries resulting from the testing program. Section 177 of the compact outlines responsibilities for monitoring the environment and human health effects of radiation from the nuclear weapons tests in the northern Marshall Islands (Bikini and Enewetak, the two ground-zero locations and Rongelap and Utrik atolls, the two communities enrolled in the Project 4.1 biomedical study). An additional provision of section 177 enables the Republic of the Marshall Islands to petition the U.S. Congress for additional compensatory funds should conditions change or new information come to light. Congress set aside $150 million to fund the provisions of the initial compact, which established a compensation trust fund with funds administered through a Nuclear Claims Tribunal that receives claims and issues awards for personal injury and property damage.

When the Compact of Free Association was negotiated and the Nuclear Claims Tribunal established much of the scientific record was classified: The Marshallese were never fully briefed on the nature of the nuclear weapons testing program and the full extent of its damages. This inequitable access to fundamental information has severely hampered Marshallese efforts to achieve a meaningful and comprehensive remedy. For example, to this day, the United States acknowledges in its compensatory programs the obligation to address nuclear-weapons-related damage to property and people in only four atolls: Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik. The U.S. documentary record tells another story: a 1955 survey, declassified in 1994 and released to the RMI in 1995, reports fallout from the 1954 Bravo test occurring at hazardous levels on twenty-eight atolls throughout the Marshall Islands. The entire nation, not simply the four atolls, is downwind, and the whole country has been adversely affected by nuclear weapons.

Today, the Rongelap community lives in exile, largely on borrowed or rented lands in Kwajalein and Majuro atolls. Recent efforts to remediate fallout hazards on areas of some islands and to rebuild homes and community structure on the island of Rongelap suggest that the community may, someday soon, have the choice of returning home. Whether or not remediation is successful and people decide to return remains to be seen.

The Marshallese have suffered more illness, death, and grief than any population should endure, and historical wrongs resulting from the nuclear weapons testing program have been compounded by inadequate and underfunded medical assistance. Despite the seriously elevated cancer rates in the Marshall Islands, as of this writing there is no oncologist in the country. There is no ability to provide chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Perhaps worst of all, there is no ability to undertake a nationwide screening for cancer to catch the illness in its early stages and provide patients with the greatest chance for survival and an improved quality of life.

A minimalist approach to health care has been provided through the Compact of Free Association (177 Agreement): Some seventeen thousand people receive health care through the 177 Health Care Program established to address the radiogenic health issues of the people of Enewetak, Bikini, Rongelap, and Utrik islands. This system is woefully underfunded and lacks comprehensive cancer treatment capability. Many people have filed personal-injury claims with the Nuclear Claims Tribunal and, with their compensation, moved to Hawaii and the continental United States seeking, among other things, better health care. The NCT has ordered millions of dollars in compensation for personal-injury claims, but many more people have been found eligible than originally anticipated. Thus the majority of awards have yet to be paid in full to victims or their surviving families. And while a compensatory payment provides assistance at one level or another, in no way does it provide the means to restore overall health.

What is clearly lacking in the Marshall Islands, and sorely needed, is a high-quality medical care program that would address direct and indirect health problems caused by U.S. activities during the nuclear test period, and build the capacity of the Marshall Islands to address these needs.

The story of Rongelap is one of systemic injury, and inadequate and at times abusive response on the part of the U.S. government. U.S. government activities in the Marshall Islands resulted in profound consequences for the entire nation, unmet U.S. obligations, and an intergenerational responsibility. Under the Bush Administration, the U.S. government views its responsibility to its former territorial possession, and those people adversely affected by the nuclear weapons testing program, as a set of limited obligations that have in large part been addressed.

Political administrations come and go, but radiogenic contamination and disease present protracted, ulcerating, intergenerational problems. The toxic and radioactive contamination of soil, water, terrestrial and marine biota, and human life that is the legacy of nuclear war games in the Marshall Islands is difficult and expensive to monitor, let alone remediate. The health complications of radiation exposure for individuals and their offspring are similarly expensive to monitor and treat. Nevertheless, just as the U.S. government continues to appropriate billions of dollars for the cleanup of the plutonium processing plant in Hanford, Washington, and as it continues to make appropriations to provide full compensation to people living downwind from the Nevada Test Site, so too must it honor commitments to the inhabitants of the former trust territory, who deserve the same level of health care and cleanup as U.S. citizens.

In today’s world-where uranium mining occurs at historic levels, where depleted uranium is widely used in military training and war, and where nuclear power and weapons production are again on the agendas of the world’s nations-these lessons have currency. The experiences of the people of Rongelap, whose lives were transformed not only by acute exposure but also by chronic exposure to low-level radiation, should be read as a timely, cautionary tale.

This essay is excerpted from The Consequential Dangers of Nuclear War: the Rongelap Report

BARBARA ROSE JOHNSTON is an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Center for Political Ecology, and a member of the expert advisory group for UNESCO’s Water and Cultural Diversity Project.  She is the co-author of The Consequential Dangers of Nuclear War: the Rongelap Report. Her documentation of dam legacy issues in Guatemala is available in Spanish and English at She can be reached at:

Holly M. Barker served as the advisor to the Republic of the Marshall Islands Embassy for 18 years and now teaches anthropology as a full-time lecturer a the University of Washington. Her latest book is Consequential Damages of Nuclear War – The Rongelap Report, by BARBARA ROSE JOHNSTON and Holly M. Barker (Left Coast Press 2008). She can be contacted at





Barbara Rose Johnston is an environmental anthropologist and Senior Fellow at the Center for Political Ecology, an independent environment, health and human rights research institute based in Santa Cruz, California.