The Republic of the Marshall Islands isn’t too thrilled with the latest offering from a Dallas brewery.
The beer, named after Bikini Atoll, was re-released earlier this year by the Manhattan Project Beer Company after first debuting years ago on a much smaller scale. Its latest incarnation, however, is now drawing the ire of critics on social media, as well as the National Nuclear Commission of the Marshall Islands, which slammed the brewery for its “frivolous use of Bikini’s name” while ignoring the “devastation, injuries and damages associated with U.S. Government activities on Bikini Atoll.”
Manhattan Project Beer Company, which takes its name from the nuclear weapons development project during World War II, announced the impending return of its Bikini Atoll beer in March. It wasn’t until earlier this month, however, that the backlash appeared to have begun.
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Last week, the Manhattan Project Beer Company claimed to have received “significant harassment and death threats,” but insisted the beer’s name was not intended to cause controversy.
“Our beer named Bikini Atoll was not created to mock or trivialize the nuclear testing that took place in the Marshall Islands,” the brewery wrote on its social media accounts. “Through our brand and naming, we are creating awareness of the wider impacts and implications of the United States’s nuclear research programs and the pivotal moment in world history that is often forgotten.”
Amid the controversy, the National Nuclear Commission (NNC) reportedly released its aforementioned press release on the subject, claiming that the Marshallese people are upset with the brewery taking the name of their ancestral homeland, which they cannot return to today “because of lingering radiation from U.S. nuclear weapons tests conducted on the islands during the Cold War.”
The NCC also asked for the brewery to “Engage in dialogue with the people of Bikini” to hear their concerns, and also called on Manhattan Project to use its resources to help in “public education efforts” to increase awareness of the state of Bikini Atoll.
The brewery, however, had said in its statement last week that it would be taking “no further action” after what the company said was its one and only statement on the matter. A representative for the brewery declined to comment further for Fox News.
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Jack Niedenthal, the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the Marshall Islands, had shared the NNC’s statement on his Facebook account last week, asking followers to “share with impunity.”
He also claimed the beer “makes fun of a horrific situation in the Marshall Islands — a situation, that I promise you is still ongoing — to make money for your company,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
A Change.org petition was organized to implore Whole Foods to stop carrying the beer, and has so far garnered the nearly 5,000 signatures it was seeking to “stop the sale” of the brew.
“Nuclear testing is not something to joke about for Pacific Islanders,” the petition reads.
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Some of the Marshall Islands, situated between Hawaii and Australia, are still uninhabited as a result of 67 nuclear tests being conducted by the U.S. between 1946 and 1958, including the largest, known as “Castle Bravo.” Radioactive fallout spread more than 6,800 square miles; traces of radioactive material were found in Australia, India, Japan, the U.S. and as far away as Europe, according to the CTBTO Preparatory Commission.
As a result, the radiation levels in parts of the Marshall Islands are said to be “higher than Chernobyl,” per studies published in 2019.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.