Sydney/Suva Wednesday, 05 May, 1999 :
The admission by French authorities that there are fractures in the coral at Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls throws doubt on many of its other claims about the effects of nuclear testing in French Polynesia.
"After years of secrecy and denials about the environmental impacts of testing, the French Government has had to concede there has been damage to coral,"
said Greenpeace Australia campaigns manager Benedict Southworth.
This week the new director of France's Atomic Energy Commission, Rene Pellet, admitted that there are fractures in the atolls after carrying out an inspection of the two sites.
Greenpeace has condemned the news, revealed in Tahiti, and once again called for an independent scientific investigation of the Moruroa test site.
"Last year the French revealed that plutonium had leaked into the lagoon at Moruroa and one year later they admit to cracks in the coral of the atoll," said Southworth. Meanwhile, French officials continue to maintain that there is no cause for environmental or health concerns in the area.
"Greenpeace's fears about environmental pollution have been upheld. France should commit itself to a complete investigation into the effects on the environment and the workers involved in the tests."
"These new revelations about cracks in the atoll at Moruroa show up huge cracks in the credibility of the French Government," said Southworth.
The news about Moruroa raises serious concerns about radioactive leaks. The French have created a massive nuclear waste dump against the wishes of the people of the South Pacific.
"France has spent years telling the world that its testing program was safe, and now it is taking the community years to uncover the hidden facts that it is not."
Hidden information is typical of many nuclear-related issues - from Moruroa, Le Hague, Sellafield. This latest revelation does not bode well for Australia's nuclear plans for a waste dump in South Australia, and a new reactor at Lucas Heights.
"The nuclear industry and the weapons industry it supports are just too deadly for humanity to play with, and Australia should take heed of these latest revelations from the Pacific," he said.
Between 1966 and 1996 the French Government conducted 193 nuclear bomb tests above and below the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa. The last test was conducted on 27 January 1996.
For more info :
Carolin Wenzel 02 9263 0358, 0417 668 95 Carolin.Wenzel@au.greenpeace.org or
Stephen Campbell 02 9263 0351,0419 227 695 Stephen.Campbell@au.greenpeace.org