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Nuclear tests in Polynesia: a toxic subject for the President.

Nuclear tests in French Polynesia. | Posted on 2021-05-12 12:17

Tensions are likely to be high during the visit of the Head of State, Emmanuel Macron, to French Polynesia next July. It will, in fact, be a question of the nuclear tests carried out by France in the atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa located in the Tuamotu archipelago. There were 193 between 1966 and 1996.

In the phase prior to this trip, Sebastien Lecornu, Minister of Overseas Territories, went to Papeete. On this occasion, he met the Polynesian President, Edouard Fritch, as well as the anti-nuclear associations and discussed this very sensitive subject. With the aim of initiating a calm dialogue with the various local stakeholders and above all to better prepare the meetings with the President which will take place for the first time at the end of June in Paris during a round table, then in early July, in Polynesia French, the Minister declared: "The government wishes to" assume "the impact of the nuclear tests in French Polynesia and to better compensate the victims". Before adding: "We are not afraid of the truth, on the contrary, we want it, and above all we want to assume".

The tests caused considerable environmental and health damage. Entire ecosystems have been destroyed and cancer cases among local populations have increased sharply. No wonder, therefore, that the issue of compensation to victims is at the center of the discussions. Many people think that Paris has intentionally minimized the consequences of the tests in the various reports carried out. This is what the Polynesian president wished to recall: "You cannot wipe out sixty years of state propaganda, denial, intimidation, contempt and arrogance with the back of your hand."

Here is an example which illustrates well the unease caused by the thorny problem of nuclear tests within the various French governments. A recent investigation carried out jointly by Radio France and Disclose highlighted the failures of the trial named "Centaur" which took place on July 17, 1974 and probably affected 110,000 people. The authors explain that: “Nothing is going as planned. The test is a failure from a technical point of view, the atomic mushroom rises lower than expected (5,200 meters instead of 8,000 meters), but above all it does not take the direction planned by the French authorities. ". Moreover, with the help of several hundred documents declassified by the French army and computer models, they affirm that: "By following the path of the cloud hour by hour, we can clearly see that instead of heading north , in the direction of Tureia and Hao atolls, and to disperse in the Pacific as planned, it is heading in a straight line towards Tahiti ". They go on to say that: “A few hours after the shooting, the army knows the risk that the Centaur shooting poses to the civilian populations. She knows that the air masses are pushing the cloud towards Tahiti, but decides to do nothing. Local authorities and civilians are not notified. We do not ask the civilian populations to take shelter or to suspend their consumption of water or milk which strongly binds radioactive substances. "

In a desire for appeasement, Sébastien Lecornu acknowledged that the number of people compensated by the Morin law, for having contracted radiation-related diseases, was "particularly low" and that the government will compensate the atolls most affected by the tests. , like Hao, the rear base of the Pacific Experiments Center.

These words and gestures of goodwill should not, however, be enough to change the position of the independence party which has always been a fierce opponent of nuclear tests, demanding, above all, an apology from the French government: "a request for forgiveness, that we still haven't had. If the president comes in July and he does not make this gesture, he will have come for nothing ”. The party also expects much stronger gestures for the environment, compensation commensurate with the damage caused. Moetai Brotherson, MP and member of the independence party, declared: "We must not wait for Moruroa to collapse to ask the question: should we have, could we have?"

Posted on 2021-05-12 12:17

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