FRENCH POLYNESIA ASSEMBLY APPROVES NUKE REPORT

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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Feb. 10) – The French Polynesia Assembly, voting Thursday in the absence of all 21 opposition members, unanimously approved a 478-page report examining the consequences of eight years of atmospheric nuclear tests between 1966 and 1974.

The report not only contains some highly controversial conclusions, but also makes a host of wide-ranging recommendations.

Although contents of the report were leaked to the local news media a week ago, Thursday was the first time the entire document was officially made public by an Inquiry Commission headed up by Unutea Hirshon, head of the Assembly's Standing Committee and a top-ranking member of French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru's independence political party.

Temaru, who has linked a long political career of calling for Tahiti's independence from France with protests against the nuclear tests, was in New Zealand Thursday when the report was read in the Assembly.

The Inquiry Commission's report is divided into three parts. The first section deals with the overall commission work, its studies, analyzes and conclusions. The second section deals with the commission's recommendations to the Temaru government and the French government. The third section deals with analysis results from CRIIRAD, the French non-government Commission for Independent Information and Research on Radioactivity, which Ms. Hirshon called upon during her inquiry commission's six-month investigation into the consequences of the 41 French atmospheric tests.

Her commission's report accuses the French State of having covered up for 40 years, and of continuing to cover up today, "damning proof . . . in the search for the truth as well as repairing damages".

The commission's report claims that the French military's so-called "clean" nuclear tests turned out to produce environmental and public health consequences. That began, the report claims, with the very first atmospheric test on July 2, 1966.

Following that test, CRIIRAD claimed in the commission's report, the external exposure to radioactive fallout in the Gambier Islands to the south of Moruroa was two times greater than the level that French nuclear testing officials later published. According to scientists cited in the report, the radioactivity level was 1,700 times greater than the maximum level recorded by sensors at the Bugey Nuclear Center in France following the passage of the radioactive cloud from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in May 1986 in what today is Ukraine.

Some of the Tahiti Assembly Inquiry Commission recommendations call for cleaning up and rehabilitating specific islands and atolls. Others call for creating an inventory of radioactive waste reportedly discarded in the ocean and/or lagoons. Based on an English translation of a synopsis of the Inquiry Commission's report found on the Internet website of the French CDRPC (Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur La Paix et Les Conflits) additional recommendations call for:

Tahiti creating its own radiological analysis laboratory and an archives center open that could eventually become international by dealing with tests conducted in the Pacific by other nuclear powers;

Creating an independent commission of historians to study the 30-year French nuclear testing period from 1966-1996 on the remote Tuamotu atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa 1,200 kms (720 miles) southeast of Papeete;

All 57 French Polynesia Assembly members were not present for the vote on the commission's report. The opposition, led by former French Polynesia President Gaston Flosse, left the hall to protest a nonaligned member receiving what the opposition claimed was more than the allowed maximum three minutes of speaking time.

As for Tahiti's current president, Temaru, his photo was in one of Thursday's local French daily newspapers showing him signing papers in Auckland for Tahiti's US$7.8 million (€4.5 million) purchase of the 169-room, 139-year-old Rocklands Hostel. One of the Temaru government's planned uses of the New Zealand government-classified historic site is as a place to stay for relatives accompanying people from Tahiti requiring hospital treatment in Auckland.

February 13, 2006

Tahitipresse: http://www.tahitipresse.pf/index.cfm?lang=2

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