31 Oct 2007

Opening of French Polynesian test veterans' centre delayed

2:37 pm on 31 October 2007

A new medical centre for French Polynesia's nuclear test veterans will remain closed until December, after an apparent no-show at its official opening.

France's minister for overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, inaugurated the new service in Papeete yesterday, making a speech in which he said France was committed to transparency over nuclear testing.

But the French High Commission and the territory's Ministry of Health have confirmed the centre is closed, and will remain so for several weeks.

It's understood the delay is the result of the president, Oscar Temaru, failing to turn up to the opening event.

In his speech, Mr Estrosi said all veterans would be offered free medical testing at the new clinic, which would be dedicated to monitoring their health.

The service is based in Papeete but will also be extended to people on the atolls of Pukarea, Reao, Tureia and the Gambier islands.

France has always maintained that its nuclear tests were clean and safe, but this is being challenged by the French Polynesian government and several veterans groups.