France denies rumoured construction on Muroroa | Pacific Beat

France denies rumoured construction on Muroroa

France denies rumoured construction on Muroroa

Updated 1 February 2013, 12:56 AEDT

Rumours have been circulating for days that construction work is being carried out on Muroroa atoll, the former site of French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

The ruling pro-independence party, Tavini Huiraatira, has told reporters some kind of building, possibly a bunker, is being built on the atoll. The reports have been flatly denied by the French government, and the French High Commissioner is due to give a press conference tomorrow in which he's expected to reiterate that denial.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: John Doom, national co-ordiator, Association of Former Nuclear Site Workers of Murorora


DOOM: A couple of weeks ago I had the information that a laboratory was starting to be built at Mururoa. The information we get is for inspection of seabed resources in French Polynesia. And two weeks ago we wrote a letter to the Minister for Overseas Territories, Mr Lurel on his short visit to Tahiti a couple of weeks ago, to denounce this information or to confirm it. For the time being we don't have any reference. And two days ago the High Commissioner as you said of France here in French Polynesia, informed the media that he will organise Friday, that means tomorrow for us, we are Thursday here in Tahiti. And he will have a press conference to denounce that they have no restriction in Mururoa. We are very surprised on that because contractors from Tahiti are there, and Tahitian workers are in place. And a group was sent to Mururoa a week ago and this is for six weeks. What for? And of course when I hear this information I communicated our senator, Richard Tuheiava, and he wrote to the High Commissioner to ask to visit Mururoa. No response for the timebeing. In French law when a parliamentarian asks for something he has to accept that. Two years ago Richard Tuheiava asked to go to Mururoa, he went with the Association Mururoa e tatou, no problem we went there. And for a year now no other people outside of the army are allowed to go to Mururoa. What's why we are asking that we want to go to Mururoa to be sure. But for us they are building a laboratory there. 
COUTTS: So Mr Doom it's not so much that a laboratory is being built there, but it's what you might describe as being done in secret or that there are workers there and it might not be safe because of the nuclear radiation perhaps still evident there from the testing that's been done on Mururoa?
DOOM: We have to remind the French government that Mururoa was, the government of Tahiti at the time allowed for nuclear testing, now to build the laboratory for other things.
COUTTS: Yes but I'm just wondering whether it's because you feel it's not safe there or it's been done in secret. I mean in principle you don't mind that the laboratory's there, are you worried that it's being done in secret and it's not safe to have workers there?
DOOM: No, no, no we don't want them to build that. Why are they going to do the research on the sea bed resources? These are ours, these are not France's. That's why the secret thing, no, they cannot build anything without the government. Even our President of the country did not know, he was not informed about it. What kind of secret, what country are we in now?
COUTTS: Ok so it's seabed mining that you're concerned about, you don't support seabed mining?
DOOM: We are supporting but these are our resources, not France. This is built for French Polynesia, to our country. Why are they doing surveys without us? Are we partners, are we people of this country or what? That's really amazing for us today. We want to know about it. I know that they will say that they will be building a place for the survey of Mururoa about the contamination and all that, but we don't believe that. What we want today to allow the senator and his group to go to Mururoa and find out by ourselves.
COUTTS: Well what's stopping you from going there?
DOOM: Because from 1964 Mururoa and Fangataufa did not belong to anyone on French Polynesia. We have no say over that. It's a French military area. it's forbidden, you cannot go there. Instead we are asking the government of France. That's why one year ago our senator Richard Tuheiava asked that Mururoa and Fangataufa come back in the French Polynesia government. But France will continue to look after what is in Mururoa, that means to see that no contamination and all these kind of things. But we want these two islands to be back at home in our group of islands. For the time being nuclear testing is finished, is over for a long time, but the two atolls are still in the hands of the French government, especially the army.

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