French Polynesia marks anniversary of first French atomic test

8:20 am on 3 July 2017

French Polynesia today marks the 51st anniversary of the first French nuclear weapons test in the Pacific as its effects continue to linger.

On this day in 1966, the French military carried out the first of its 193 nuclear tests at French Polynesia's Moruroa atoll.

Tahiti marks anniversary of 1st French atomic test

Tahiti marks anniversary of 1st French atomic test Photo: FB Moruroa e tatou

A gathering has been called in Papeete this afternoon.

Roland Oldham, who is the head of French Polynesia's nuclear veterans organisation, said even though former nuclear workers were dying, their descendents continued to face the problem of nuclear fallout.

"I would say that the story of nuclear will never end. We know when it started but we don't know when it's going to end. It seems to me there is no ending because of what we know exactly of the situation, of what we know about the health and about the environment is still very very alarming for the future generation," he said.

Mr Oldham recently returned from the UN Conference on a Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons where he shared his experiences of victims of the tests - a perspective, he said, was unique.

"The way the victims lives every day and their situation cannot always be understood by some of the campaigner or even the bureaucracy of the UN."

View of the advanced recording base PEA "Denise" on Moruroa atoll, where French forces have conducted nuclear weapon tests until 1996.

Remnants of the testing infrastructure on Moruroa atoll Photo: AFP

There is another push in French Polynesia to pursue France for alleged crimes against humanity over its nuclear weapons testing.

The pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira Party of Oscar Temaru launched a petition to that effect which it plans to submit to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

This comes after French Polynesia's Protestant church last year announced it would take France to the International Criminal Court over the legacy of the weapons tests.

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