Nuclear Testing Chronology: 1960's
The progeny - F2 & F3 generations - of Rongelap islanders exposed to the dangerous radioactive fallout from the March 1, 1954 "Bravo" hydrogen bomb equalling about 1,000 Hiroshima A-bombs.
The first thyroid tumors begin appearing among the Rongelap people exposed to the Bravo test in 1954. Also, a higher than normal incidence of growth retardation among young Rongelap Islanders is noted by U.S. doctors.
January - The U.S. Congress approves an exgratia payment of $950,000 (about $11,000 per capita) to the exposed Rongelap people for injuries resulting from their exposure in 1954.
U.S. government agencies began considering the possibility of returning the Bikinian people to their homelands based on data on radiation levels on Bikini Atoll from the U.S. scientific community. This scientific optimism stemmed directly from an Atomic Energy Commission study that stated, "Well water could be used safely by the natives upon their return to Bikini. It appears that radioactivity in the drinking water may be ignored from a radiological safety standpoint...The exposures of radiation that would result from the repatriation of the Bikini people do not offer a significant threat to their health and safety."
June - The story appeared on the front page of the New York Times: President Lyndon B. Johnson promised the 540 Bikinians living on Kili [below] and other islands that they would now be able to return to their homeland. The President also stated that, "It is our goal to assist the people of Bikini to build, on these once desolated islands, a new and model community." He then ordered Bikini to be resettled "with all possible dispatch."
August - An eight-year plan was prepared for the resettlement of Bikini Atoll in order to give the crops planted on the islands a chance to mature. The first section of the plan involved the clearing of the radioactive debris on Bikini Island. This segment of the work was designed by the AEC and the U.S. Department of Defense. Responsibility for the second phase of the reclamation, which included the replanting of the atoll, construction of a housing development and the relocation of the community, was assumed by the U.S. Trust Territory government.
October - Bikini Atoll is declared safe for rehabitation by U.S. officials. "There's virtually no radiation left and we can find no discernible effect on either plant or animal life," says the AEC.