9 Jan 2009

France to spend US$80m to clean up Hao after end of nuclear weapons tests

4:06 pm on 9 January 2009

A deal has been signed in French Polynesia for France to spend more than 80 million US dollars to rehabilitate the atoll of Hao which was a key military base during the 30 years of nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific.

The agreement was signed by the French high commissioner in Papeete, Adolphe Colrat, the French Polynesian vice-president, Jules Ienfa, and the mayor of Hao.

Mr Colrat told RFO radio that the clean-up process will take seven years and marked a financial commitment by France ten times bigger than what has been dispersed on Hao so far.

He says this also shows that France keeps its commitments and will help the development of Hao.

France quit its nuclear weapons testing regime in 1996 but continues to face complaints by veterans for failing to compensate those who suffered poor health because of exposure to the blasts.