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Radioactive Nuclear Waste Ship Found Off California Coast

Updated on April 17, 2015
1946 nuclear test explosion
1946 nuclear test explosion
Afterwards
Afterwards
Sunk
Sunk
Ship's location
Ship's location

The USN kept its sinking secret

During its 10-year career, the USS Independence, was used in many key WW2 pacific battles and suffered numerous blows. The carrier was 623 feet long. She was at Wake, Rabaul, Tarawa, and Leyte, all key battles during that war. After the war, was used in a 1946 nuclear test explosion at Bikini Atoll suffering major damage from the fireball. It was used as a decontamination lab back at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. Once the ship was no longer needed, the USN filled it up with 100 barrels of nuclear waste and hauled it to a spot 30 miles off the coast from Half Moon Bay, all radioactive, and sunk it in 1951. This was not the only time. The USN used the Farallon Islands area as a nuclear waster dump sit site from 1946 to 1970! Some 48,000 barrels of radioactive waste were disposed of there.

After the ship sunk, the USN kept it secret for many decades but it was first discovered in 1990, but then forgotten about until a NOAA ship found it while mapping the area and pictures were captured. The submarine got within 200 feet of the carrier and testing equipment for radioactivity yielded normal results.

Records show that before the ship was sunk, the barrels of nuclear waste were filled with concrete and sealed in the engine and boiler rooms.

The Farallon Islands are teeming with a variety of sea life and it is yet another story of how the US government, in this case, the US Navy, hid what they were doing from the public. Actions that could endanger their health. There is no evidence that the barrels are leaking radiation in the area. The ship's hull was highly radioactive after the nuclear tests as it was only a half mile from ground zero. Its remains now sit in 2600 feet of water, home to sea life.

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