Marshall Islands Program
The Marshall Islands Program was established in 1977 by the Energy Research and Development
Administration, the predecessor agency to the Department of Energy (DOE), following
the accidental exposure of people present on two atolls, Rongelap and Utrők, to
fallout from the U.S. nuclear test at the Bikini atoll. The program has two components:
A special medical program that provides annual comprehensive medical screenings to
detect and treat tumors, and a radiological and environmental monitoring program to
characterize the radioactive materials in the environment and in naturally occurring
food plants in the four contaminated atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrők,
in order to facilitate the resettlement of these atolls, two of which are resettled.
The DOE responsibility to provide medical surveillance and care, environmental monitoring and
characterization, and dose assessment for the peoples of the Marshall Islands is contained in U.S.
Public Law. Since 1977, DOE and its predecessor agencies have provided state-of-the-art diagnosis
and treatment for the DOE patient population of Rongelap and Utrők atolls. DOE also provides technical
assistance to aid the four affected atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrők in their efforts to
resettle these atolls since 1980.
Some individuals in the Republic of the Marshall Islands believed that the medical program harbored
an undisclosed experimental research program. In October 1995, the U.S. Advisory Committee on Human
Radiation Experiments (Advisory Committee) issued its final report, which stated, in part, that the
committee "found no evidence to support the claim that the exposures [to radioactive fallout] of the
Marshallese, either initially or after resettlement, were motivated by research purposes."
In an effort to dismantle the barriers that have contributed to distrust observed by the
Advisory Committee, DOE actively promotes efforts to locate, declassify when necessary and make
available documents on the medical care, radiological monitoring activities, and documents about
the weapons tests. All known classified documents are now declassified and available on the Internet.
The purpose of this web page is to provide a means for interested
parties to access electronic copies of historic documents on
subjects that the DOE, in consultation with the Marshallese government, deemed most useful to
For additional information about Marshall Island Document Collection please contact Gerald R. Petersen
Special Marshall Islands' Edition/Health Physics Journal
The status of DOE's Marshall Islands activities, as well as perspective of other non-DOE authors
is included in the special edition of the Health Physics Journal, Vol. 73, No. 1, July 1997 entitled
Consequences of Nuclear Testing in the Marshall Islands. The entire publication is available
for browsing by clicking on the following http://www.hss.energy.gov/healthsafety/ihs/marshall/marsh/journal.
Each contributed paper is also retrievable as a separate document.
It is hoped that this site will be a useful resource for the people and the government of the Marshall Islands and other interested persons, for information regarding exposure to radioactive fallout and its effects on the environment and health as a consequence of the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program in the Marshall Islands from 1946 to 1958.