The Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands - a remote location nestled deep within the vast Pacific Ocean between Australia and Hawaii - is a picturesque paradise in many respects. Adorned by clear pale blue waters, breathtaking skies and vivid vegetation, it is also home to one of the most poisonous tombs on the planet. This Cold War artifact hides toxic waste from United States nuclear tests, and rising sea levels are threatening its stability. Produced by ABC News Australia, The Dome travels to this exotic location to uncover the extent to which this structure is eroding, and the threat its leaking contents pose to inhabitants of the region.
The dome itself is a circular slab of concrete set close to the ground on a narrow strip of land. Under this concrete lies the radioactive remnants of atomic explosions conducted almost seven decades ago. Construction on the dome was completed sloppily and with little regard for safety precautions. Proper lining was not installed between the toxic materials and the underlying soil. Cracks are beginning to fester on the dome's surface and the ocean has already begun to make its way inside.
The workers who built the dome have suffered a myriad of illnesses over the years, and many of them were kept in the dark about what their construction was designed to conceal.
Sea waters are already impeding upon the structure. A typhoon could shatter it completely. If such an event were to occur, the entire Pacific Ocean could become contaminated and impact the lives of millions.
The film profiles several residents of nearby islands who were evacuated many years ago, including the inhabitants of Bikini Island, the site of a nuclear test which measured 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Even after all this time, contamination levels leave them no hope of ever returning to their homeland.
The Dome is a testament to the destructive impact of the atomic age. The ill effects of that bygone era linger to this day and continue to infect new generations. The film also sheds light on the dangers of climate change by examining one of its most unexpected and catastrophic consequences.