18 May 2005

Leaked French documents show impact of nuclear blasts on Mangareva

8:26 pm on 18 May 2005

The French Polynesian association of nuclear test veterans has presented what it claims are previously secret French documents about the effects of an atmospheric nuclear weapons test in 1966.

The group, Moruroa e Tatou, says the military documents show that four days after the atomic blast in the Gambier islands unwashed salad was more than 650 times more radioactive than normal, and once washed, it was still 185 times more radioactive than normal.

The report by a military doctor said the Tahitian population was completely unaware of the effects of the test, expressing concern about barefoot children playing on the contaminated soil.

Mururoa e Tatou says the fallout from the July blast in 1966 was 140 times bigger than the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in the Soviet Union in 1986.

It has now asked the defence ministry in Paris to release all information about the tests to the people of the Gambier islands so that they can understand what effect the explosions have had on their health.

France carried out 41 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific over eight years from 1966.