24 Nov 2005

Tahiti nuclear test veterans suspect removal of evidence of contamination

2:48 pm on 24 November 2005

The French Polynesian nuclear test veterans group, Mururoa e Tatou, is calling on the French government not to dismantle a shelter in which islanders took refuge during nuclear weapons tests.

Roland Oldham of Mururoa e Tatou says ten Ministry of Defence personnel accompanied by the police are examining the shelter today which was built in the 1960s for islanders on the atoll of Tureia.

Mr Oldham says the shelter has been tested as having levels of radiation which are four times higher than the normal by the territorial assembly's Commission of Inquiry which was set up to look into the effects of nuclear testing.

He says almost forty years on, the French government has still not accepted responsibility for the effects on people's health, and he suspects the Ministry of Defence wants to try to remove any proof of contamination.

"We want to go till the end of this Commission to get the final report and conclusion so we can find out the responsibility of the french government on these issues. So that's why we don't want this shelter to be removed now."

Roland Oldham of Mururoa e Tatou.

The Commission of Inquiry is due to present its findings in January.