3 Dec 2013

French Polynesia's nuclear test veterans not impressed by zone extension

5:48 pm on 3 December 2013

There has been a largely negative response by French Polynesia's nuclear test veterans to a compensation law change.

The National Assembly says claims for fallout from the nuclear weapons tests can now be lodged from all of French Polynesia.

Before the eligible zone was restricted to the test area used for the more than 100 blasts.

The head of Moruroa e tatou, Roland Oldham, told Walter Zweifel it expects little to change as practically all claims are being rejected.

ROLAND OLDHAM: Everybody already knew that there was fallout all over the place. But they've been denying, denying, denying for years and years. We spent 10 years to have the proof of this fallout all over the place.

WALTER ZWEIFEL: But isn't a surprise, after all, given that the defence minister that came in with the Socialist government said that the Loi Morin was good, and now apparently he's prepared and backing this change to have this fallout zone extended.

RO: Well, again, I'm only concerned it's some kind of political manipulation maybe because of the elections coming up for the mayor all over the place in France and here. One thing is clear - the right wing and the left wing have the same policy as far as this issue of nuclear waste is concerned. When you see the number of people who have been compensated, something like 12. It's come to something like one person a year, which is a real disaster. One compensation a year - does that mean we have to fight for the next 900 years? To me, the situation is just so urgent, so urgent, that we cannot carry on like that. Now that they recognised that the whole area of Polynesia has been contaminated by the fallout, now in the Loi Morin there is still one article that they have to change, which is the main article. If that article is not changed there will be no compensation. An article saying that there is a committee that examined all the files. And at the end the committee can decide if it's good or not, and they often use this term in French 'negligable' when it's not really due to nuclear testing. In that case, most of our files have been rejected.

WZ: Some of these files are supposed to be dealt with by the prime minister's office and not the defence ministry. What's the difference? What's the implication?

RO: Well, I don't really know. We have to wait. Because the procedure that they have put together for the Loi Morin is a real trap because it goes into this committee. You will say that works. Why the change? Why that? It's just giving them a good image.