FRANCE ADMITS NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS CAUSED ATOLL DAMAGE IN FRENCH

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POLYNESIA

PAPE‘ETE, Tahiti (May 4, 1999 - Radio Australia)---France has admitted for first time that fractures have been found in the coral cones at the former Moruroa and Fangataufa nuclear test sites in French Polynesia.

Environmental groups and critics of France's nuclear testing program have been making the claim for several years, although the France government has always denied them.

Now, however, the new Director of France's Atomic Energy Commission, René Pellat, has told a media conference in Tahiti that there definitely are fractures within the atolls.

The Editor of Tahiti-Pacifique magazine , Alex W. du Prel, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that Mr. Pellat made the admission after inspecting the sites last week:

"There had been a map showing the fractures which was circulating among French union circles, in the early nineties," du Prel said, but it never was confirmed by the French government.

Now, he noted, for "the first time they actually admitted there were fractures.

"We're talking about the coral part of the atoll," du Prel stressed.

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