New French Polynesia nuclear commission greeted with suspicion
The head of an organisation representing victims of nuclear testing in French Polynesia says a commission set up to assess the aftermath of the testing could just be a charade.
The head of an organisation representing victims of nuclear weapons testing in French Polynesia says a commission set up to assess the aftermath of the testing could just be a charade.
It was set up by France's defence minister and will be made up of 24 members, chaired by the French High Commissioner in Papeete.
The first meeting is to be held on Tuesday.
Roland Oldham is the president of Moruroa e Tatou, which represents victims of nuclear testing which was carried out on the atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa.
Mr Oldham says the commission could end up as yet another forum for France to dodge taking responsibility for the damage done to the environment and people of French Polynesia.
Nicole Pryor asked him what he thought about the commission being established.
ROLAND OLDHAM: If we talk with the French government we see the situation with the French government is just that as they always say..that the nuclear testing has been very clean, exceptionally clean - they are just rejecting any idea of cancer coming from nuclear experimentation, which is very discouraging.
NICOLE PRYOR: Do you think they're going to find anything different to what their line has been the whole time - that it was clean?
ROLAND OLDHAM: Well, I like to be positive...I won't make any judgement before the commission, and I'm going to take a look into it - but somewhere, we just ask ourselves why more and more and more commissions. Isn't it enough proof now that they had an impact on the environment and a very bad impact on the health of the Polynesian people - isn't it enough proof.
NICOLE PRYOR: What do you think is the reasoning behind starting this now?
ROLAND OLDHAM: I think it's just to delay a little bit more, to tell everybody 'well, the commission have met, and the experts have said there is nothing to worry about it'.
NICOLE PRYOR: Do you think this kind of commission leaves the French government open to more claims for compensation that they'll actually have to front with?
ROLAND OLDHAM: I think this commission is one of the thousands and thousands of commissions they're going to put together, as I say, it's just a delaying thing, and they won't assume any responsibility, and they won't compensate the people. But, then again, we will see in the next meeting -but we will be speaking with a very loud voice, we've had enough of all these lies, of 40 years of lying, so if this commission is going to be another lie, it is just a waste of money and a waste of time.
NICOLE PRYOR: What do you think is the environmental impact at this point?
ROLAND OLDHAM: Well we had about 30 years of experimentation, 193 nuclear explosions - some in the air, some underground. It's hard to say there's no environmental impact. The documents we've been able to get show very clearly all the fallout of the radioactivity during the radioactive tests. It is a real worry because they talk about one part of Mururoa could sink into the ocean, which would be a disaster.
NICOLE PRYOR: Can you talk me through what compensation you've been able to get people?
ROLAND OLDHAM: This situation is a real shame because France is not doing anything for the victims. Very little people have had compensation, and then again when you have a good look at compensation, people can hardly survive on this compensation, it would not even pay all the expense of the health problems. So it's just waiting, the process is so long, it's just waiting for the former workers to die, then it can say there are no victims.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: