French Nuclear Test Site Mururoa Atoll in Danger of Collapse

 at Fangataufa atoll, French Polynesia

This picture taken in June 2000 shows a landing stage at Fangataufa atoll, French Polynesia, with a board reading in French and Tahitian 'Military zone, entry forbidden'. There have been concerns that part of the Mururoa Atoll could collapse into the sea due to atomic tests from the 1960s to the late 1990s. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

The French government, since 2010, has kept secret that Mururoa Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, is in danger of collapsing, according to Mururoa e Tatou (MET), the Nuclear Association in French Polynesia.

MET President Roland Oldham told ABC’s Radio Australia Pacific Beat program that the issue was detailed in a leaked report from the French Ministry of Defence and should have been made public long ago.

Mr Oldham said if the atoll were to collapse, radioactive material would be released into the Pacific Ocean, and could cause a 15-metre tsunami.

a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll.

A picture taken in 1971 shows a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll. (/AFP/Getty Images)

“Just in that little area, there is over maybe 12 underground tests in that area, and we have to remember that France have done altogether 193 nuclear test explosions in Mururoa,” he told Pacific Beat.

“In the soil of Mururoa, if something happens there is about 150 holes containing very dangerous radioactivity.”

MET, an organization working to secure restitution for victims of French nuclear testing in Tahiti, has been trying to raise the issue with the French government and public, Mr Oldham said.

He was disappointed the French government hadn’t released the report earlier.

He said the implications if only one part of Mururoa collapsed were “really frightening” and would impact the international community as well.

“I think it would be a really big problem to the environment if this nuclear radioactivity is to be diluted in the ocean and from there we have no control over what would happen next,” Mr Oldham said in the Pacific Beat interview.

There have been concerns that part of the Mururoa Atoll could collapse into the sea due to atomic tests from the 1960s to the late 1990s. Back in 1997, one year after the final, highly controversial nuclear test, an official report referred to the risks, Newsweek UK online reported.

Yet, the leaked report, Mr Oldham says, makes no mention of radioactivity.

“In this report we got not too long ago, they’re not even talking about radioactivity,” he told Pacific Beat. “The way they present it, it’s like it’s not very dangerous.”

In a video recorded last month with Breaking the Nuclear Chain, Mr Oldham was cited as saying that Mururoa and other atolls were the site of atomic explosions up to 170 times stronger than that used in the bombing of Hiroshima.

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