French Polynesia fish farm moving to nuclear base
There are questions over plans to put a fish farm on the former nuclear base of Hao in French Polynesia.
Questions are being raised in French Polynesia over whether a new fish farm should be set up on an island once used as a half way house for France's nuclear bombs.
The 1.7 billion dollar Chinese backed proposal, which would create 2000 jobs, had been planned for the island of Makemo.
Hao has a runway and large dock originally used for the transport of French nuclear bombs from Hao to Mururoa.
The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, told Mary Baines there is also talk of the atoll becoming a tax haven.
ALEX DU PREL: The government will certainly declare the area a tax haven, where they would be outside of the French Polynesia legal system which is bureaucratic, so many laws and regulations where you can hardly raise your finger without getting permission. So that would be the only way that this operation would be viable by number one, making it a duty free zone, number two, flying directly from that atoll to China, and also having those docks because that would be another 30 or 40 million dollars to build docks on the island of Makemo. And the lagoon is much bigger also, and it's appropriate for the type of fishing they want to do.
MARY BAINES: Is there concern about having a fisheries project there because of the nuclear pollution on Hao?
ADP: This is my personal opinion. Effectively, there's one area where they used to have the sub, where they used to have the power plant, where they used to have a bunch of housing. Also at the beginning they had some kind of factory that was making hydrogen to blow up balloons under which they would hang the bomb to have it explode. But actually the lagoon is so big and the area where the army was so small that most of the lagoon must not have any pollution. There's one small area where they were washing the planes that flew through the nuclear clouds to take samples, and another place they had dumped a couple of these jets because they were too highly radioactive. But people know where they are, they're doing the clean-up. But most of the other stuff was that they just went out at sea and dumped it and you know, it's three kilometres deep over there, and nothing will ever come up. Anything you put in the ocean that goes below 500 metres the pressure is so high that nothing can come up, unless there's a volcano.
MB: So what would the local reaction be to moving this aquaculture project to Hao? Would it be welcome?
ADP: The people in Hao are jumping with joy, and the people of Makemo are crying their tears all the way down. There's nothing else to do on an atoll. So if they have this thing, it's tremendous investment, because they need at least seven hectares to set up their laboratories, to set up their hatcheries, and so on and so on, it will give a lot of work to the people, and finally that atoll will wake up again. Because Hao had a lot of traffic during the era of nuclear tests, and then it kind of dropped - so it would give them a second boost.
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