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Harrowing stories reveal decades of fallout for nuclear test veterans,

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Harrowing stories reveal decades of fallout for nuclear test veterans, STUFF, Jimmy Ellingham , June 12 2021 

 More than 500 young Kiwi sailors were unwitting witnesses to British nuclear testing in the Pacific in the late 1950s. Jimmy Ellingham talks to three men who were there.

One by one they spoke of cancers and birth defects in their children.

Four decades after Operation Grapple, hydrogen-bomb tests off Christmas Island witnessed by New Zealanders on two frigates, HMNZS Rotoiti and Pukaki, the stories were harrowing and the suffering unbearable.


It was the early days of the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, created through the efforts of navy veteran Roy Sefton, from Palmerston North.

At the city’s Returned and Services’ Association home, Grapple sailors shared their stories of the tests’ after-effects.

“I knew people were sick. I didn’t know how sick. I didn’t know about the generations,” says Pukaki veteran Clive Strickett.

“That really broke me up.”

Sefton told veterans to bring their wives and children. They told stories of miscarriages and, in extreme cases, babies born with missing limbs.

“There wasn’t a dry face in the place,” Strickett says, remembering the moment when the terrible effects of what they were exposed to hit them.

“Everyone cried. It was so terrible. We decided that we’ve got to do something about this.”

That gathering in the late-1990s was also when fellow Pukaki sailor John Purcell learned what his old mates and their families were going through.

“A person speaking had throat cancer. He was in terrible trouble.

“As I sat there and listened to all the other disabilities that our members and their families have had, I suddenly realised that I had a story to tell as well.”…………….

In the fallout zone

In August and September 1958, there were five nuclear tests off Christmas Island, south of Indonesia, as Britain looked to match the arsenals held by the United States and Soviet Union.

Strickett saw three, the second of which was huge, 20 times bigger than Hiroshima, he says.

“That’s a huge explosion. That created a huge vapour cloud across the Pacific we had to monitor. We had to monitor it until it evaporated.

“It took days and days to evaporate, so we were under that cloud for a long time.”

It rained. Hard. Pukaki had a problem with its salt water condenser, so an awning was put up to collect rain water for washing and drinking. This potentially exposed the crew to more radiation.


Strickett remembers the explosions as horrific, although they were an amazing sight. Beautiful, some said.

“It was picturesque, but it wasn’t for me. I can’t say I enjoyed it. I don’t think we were prepared for it.”

Sailors were told to tuck trousers into socks and cover their eyes. Those on deck sat with their backs to the detonation zone and waited.

“We did that and the bomb went off, and that was it for me. I could see the bones in my hand. It was scary.”

For that second, big bomb, after two minutes the men were told to open their eyes and look towards the blast.

“It was right in front of us… It was huge.”

Purcell saw four tests. Two smaller ones and two big ones, equivalent to 800,000 tonnes and 1 million tonnes of TNT, respectively.

Protective clothing wasn’t up to much, he says – a pair of trousers, hat and gloves.

“It’s so archaic they thought this was the uniform that would assist us with the blast..

“The biggest blast was a huge mushroom that climbed. It took up the whole horizon.”

Purcell also remembers sitting with his back to the blasts, waiting for them to explode as naval officers counted from one to 40.

“The explosions were rumblings in the distance. Then you felt the heat on your back.”

He also saw the bones of his hands, a common memory of Grapple veterans. “That’s the biggest memory I had, really.”

Toomath was below deck for two or three explosions. In recent years he’s learned that may have been the worst place to be, as the boiler room sucked in air from outside.

“We had all the radiation coming down.”

But at the time he felt safe.

“I was in the boiler room for one of them. I think that was the biggest one. I know it got pretty hot down there. It was that hot I couldn’t even touch the handrails on the ladders.”

Above deck he saw the Pukaki steaming towards a huge mushroom cloud full of lightning and thunder, but was told not to worry.

“We were just young, innocent. We were up there for adventure.”

The aftermath

Purcell spent 8½ years in the navy before joining the prison service, including being in charge of Napier Prison.

His list of medical ailments is substantial. He doesn’t want to delve into the detail, but it includes cancer.

Purcell gets a war veterans’ pension because of his health, but such support, which was hard-won, does not extend to children or grandchildren of veterans.

In 1966, Purcell’s daughter Lynette was born with a hole in her heart and cerebral palsy. She was never able to sit up unsupported and died in her mid-40s……………………..

Waiting for an apology

Sefton, the Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association’s chairman, died in January, aged 82. Bulls Grapple veteran Tere Tahi, who was aboard the Rotoiti in 1957, has taken over his mate’s mantle and is determined to meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

He estimates about 60 veterans survive and the association wants an apology for the young men who were put in harm’s way and the effect the blasts had on their health.

It also wants research undertaken and medical help for children or grandchildren of veterans.

Association patron Al Rowland is a retired Massey academic involved in research that found there was long-term genetic damage to the veterans and their families, but this hasn’t been enough to convince the New Zealand or British Government.

Toomath says support for veterans’ children and grandchildren is crucial, as is understanding the effects of radiation exposure down the generations. He would like to see research into this.

Strickett says he doesn’t need money from a payout, but would like an apology.

Like Toomath he wants the Government to fund research into Grapple veterans’ descendants and for it to push the British Government into acknowledging it was wrong to risk the young sailors’ lives.

Purcell says he’ll write a letter to the latest Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Meka Whaitiri, as he has done to her predecessors.

“What I find hard to accept is the lack of recognition from the Crown that these young boys were handed over to the Government to be treated like guinea pigs.

“If the testing was so safe why didn’t the British carry it out on their own shores?

“All we want is simply a public apology for the treatment of all navel test veterans and their whānau. That’s not hard.”

Purcell and Toomath are featured in a photography exhibition at Te Manawa Art Gallery, Palmerston North, until August.   https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300330166/harrowing-stories-reveal-decades-of-fallout-for-nuclear-test-veterans

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June 12, 2021 Posted by | health, New Zealand, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA still has ban on major foodstuffs from Fukushima region. Why did Philippines lift their ban?

Silence on Japan’s dumping nuclear wastes and historical revisionism risks world environment, Manila Times, 
Kim Chui, June 8, 2021

JAPANESE Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s recent announcement of Japan’s unilateral decision to dump 1.2 million tons of nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean should be of real concern to everyone. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that the US supported Japan’s announcement, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended its import ban on major foodstuff from the Fukushima region that has been in effect since 2011.

More worrisome is Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s announcement in January 2020 during the visit of Japan Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, that the Philippines had lifted all import bans of food products from Japan without reporting whether any proper scientific tests had been done. Were there safeguards established to protect Filipino consumers, or were we made to be the dumping ground of rejects again just to extend goodwill to a “friend?”    Is the Philippine FDA more capable of testing radioactive foodstuff than the US FDA?…………….  https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/06/08/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/silence-on-japans-dumping-nuclear-wastes-and-historical-revisionism-risks-world-environment/1802316

June 8, 2021 Posted by | environment, Philippines | Leave a comment

Pacific Islands forum wants answers on the effects of Japan’s Fukushima waste water to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean

Forum head calls for answers on Japan’s plans to dump nuclear waste,  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/444115/forum-head-calls-for-answers-on-japan-s-plans-to-dump-nuclear-waste  5 June 21  The head of the Pacific Islands Forum wants more answers from Japan on its plan to dump wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant in the Pacific.

Secretary General Henry Puna called for a frank discussion ahead of a meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, after that organisation said Japan’s dumping plan was technically feasible.

The Japanese government has said it plans to release more than a million tonnes of contaminated wastewater from the wrecked plant into the sea.

Puna has demanded clarity over what impact those plans will have on the Pacific Ocean, with Pacific countries united in their outrage at the plan.

The legacy of nuclear testing hangs over the region, with the associated health and environmental issues caused by United StatesBritish and French testing largely unresolved today.


“The threat of nuclear contamination continues to be of significant concern to the health and security of our Blue Pacific continent,” Puna said.

He said the Pacific was entitled to clear answers, including evidence-based scientific assessments, to underpin Japan’s plan.

“Our 50-year history as the Forum has been overshadowed by our nuclear legacy issues, which continue to impact affected communities today, and we should not accept anything less,” Puna said.

Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga has said dumping the water is unavoidable.

June 5, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, politics international | 1 Comment

Pacific Nuclear test veterans encouraged quest for apology will succeed  

Nuclear test veterans encouraged quest for apology will succeed  https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300309768/nuclear-test-veterans-encouraged-quest-for-apology-will-succeed, Jimmy Ellingham May 17 2021  Pacific nuclear test veterans are encouraged their quest to gain a long-awaited apology for being exposed to radiation appears to have ministerial support

Kiwi sailors on the decks of the HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki witnessed atomic explosions and collected weather data during Operation Grapple, Britain’s Pacific nuclear testing programme of the 1950s.

The New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association, which represents the more than 500 Kiwi sailors involved, is pushing for a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The association wants an apology for the sailors, and help for medical problems in their children and grandchildren.

To lay the groundwork for the prime ministerial audience the association’s chairman, Tere Tahi, of Bulls, has met with Veterans’ Affairs Minister Meka Whaitiri.

Tahi said last week’s audience with the minister, her secretary and head of Veterans’ Affairs Bernadine Mackenzie went well, a feeling he hadn’t had from meetings with previous ministers.

“They were mighty to talk to. The minister was really good and she said that she’ll do what she can for the veterans.”

The trio listened to arguments about how what the navy veterans went through had affected their children and grandchildren. Tahi and his son James represented the association.

At present the veterans can get help for medical problems, but their offspring cannot.

Tahi said Whaitiri was asked if she could approach Ardern about a meeting, and she said she would try.

“We put our case across to her [Whaitiri], which is what we wanted to do. She was very good.

“We want recognition. We want an apology.”


The association’s plan was to argue its case to Ardern on humanitarian grounds, telling the stories of its members.

It’s thought about 60 of the Kiwi sailors are still alive.

The association’s plan was to argue its case to Ardern on humanitarian grounds, telling the stories of its members.

It’s thought about 60 of the Kiwi sailors are still alive.

The association was formed in the 1990s. At a reunion about that time it became clear many veterans were affected by cancer and other health 

May 18, 2021 Posted by | health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Zealand nuclear veterans want apology and compensation from the government

New Zealand’s nuclear horror still not acknowledged say vets  Stuff, Janine Rankin May 02 2021 Photos on a wall, names on a board and an academic study will ensure the radiation damage to 551 men who witnessed Britain’s nuclear bomb explosions in the Pacific is never forgotten.

But what the New Zealand survivors of those blasts really want is an apology and compensation from the Government.

The stories of the nuclear veterans and the subsequent heartache and illness affecting them and the off-spring of those who had families have been retold in Palmerston North this weekend.

It was the third opening of Denise Baynham’s exhibition of the photographs and stories of navy veterans “Operation Grapple, We were There” at Te Manawa art gallery……………

……..   The men exposed to those bomb blasts, many times more powerful than the bombs that ended World War II in Japan, suffered radiation damage, and still do.

A carefully controlled sample of 50 veterans showed three times the frequency of genetic damage, technically called total chromosome translocations, than the control group.

Rowland is now the association’s patron, and he and Sefton’s close friend and successor Tere Tahu are determined to have the Government acknowledge the harm done.

They have a meeting with Veterans’ Affairs Minister Meka Whaitiri on May 10, with the goal of gaining an audience with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Veteran John Purcell said until now, they had only received “a wall of silence” from successive ministers.

“It is my belief that the Crown abrogated its duty of care by dispatching HMNZS Pukaki and Rotoiti to take part in the British nuclear testing, being fully aware that we were being sent into harm’s way.”

What he wants is a public apology, a public acceptance of the research findings, urgent research regarding the children and grandchildren of veterans, and compensation.,   https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/125002784/new-zealands-nuclear-horror-still-not-acknowledged-say-vets

May 3, 2021 Posted by | health, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France tested 41 nuclear weapons in the Pacific, and grossly underestimated the radioactive fallout

Science 11th March 2021, From 1966 to 1974, France blew up 41 nuclear weapons in above-ground tests
in French Polynesia, the collection of 118 islands and atolls that is part of France. The French government has long contended that the testing was done safely.

But a new analysis of hundreds of documents declassified in 2013 suggests the tests exposed 90% of the 125,000 people living in French Polynesia to radioactive fallout—roughly 10 times as many people as theFrench government has estimated.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/03/france-grossly-underestimated-radioactive-fallout-atom-bomb-tests-study-finds

April 27, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, radiation | Leave a comment

‘If it’s safe, dump it in Tokyo’ – Pacific Islanders don’t want Fukushima waste water

Guardian 26th April 2021, If it’s safe, dump it in Tokyo. We in the Pacific don’t want Japan’s
nuclear wastewater. To Pacific peoples, who have carried the
disproportionate human cost of nuclearism in our region, this is yet
another act of catastrophic and irreversible trans-boundary harm that our
region has not consented to.

While Japan’s plan is for the water to be
diluted first and discharged over the course of about 30 years, and the
Japanese government has tried its hardest to convince the wider public of
the treated water’s safety through the use of green mascots and backing
from American scientists, Pacific peoples are once again calling it for
what it is: an unjust act.

“We need to remind Japan and other nuclear
states of our Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement slogan: if it
is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington,
but keep our Pacific nuclear-free,” said Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, Vanuatu
stateswoman and veteran activist of the Nuclear Free and Independent
Pacific (NFIP) movement, after Japan’s announcement. “We are people of
the ocean, we must stand up and protect it.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/if-its-safe-dump-it-in-tokyo-we-in-the-pacific-dont-want-japans-nuclear-wastewater

April 27, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans | 2 Comments

Growing opposition to Rocket Lab in New Zealand

Rocket Lab: Growing opposition in New Zealand. By Murray Horton, 18 Apr 21,

Rocket Lab started life as a small New Zealand company but is now much bigger and has become the local subsidiary of a US company, with its owners including arms industry behemoths such as Lockheed Martin. 

It specialises in frequent launches of small satellites for clients including a range of US military and intelligence agencies. These launches are conducted from New Zealand, which prides itself on being nuclear free (it was kicked out of the ANZUS Treaty in 1986 by the other two parties – the US and Australia – for having banned US nuclear warships from entering. That remains the status quo today). 

NZ also claims to have an independent foreign policy. But it remains the most junior of the Five Eyes global electronic spying network (with the US, UK, Canada and Australia). Having Rocket Lab operating a private enterprise space port in New Zealand for US military and intelligence agencies, with the active backing of Jacinda Ardern’s Government, totally undermines that claim.

Rocket Lab has, up until recently, received uncritical, even adulatory, coverage by the NZ news media. That, plus the fact that its’ launch pad is in a very remote, sparsely populated area (the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast) means that it has been off the radar (pardon the pun) of the NZ public. 

In 2021 that is now changing. Mainstream media coverage has become more critical, the best example being  “Mahia, We Have A Problem”, by Ollie Neas in the March 2021 North & South (a national monthly magazine). And opposition has started, right in Rocket Lab’s back yard, in the Mahia area, led by local Maori women (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand). 

There was a protest against Rocket Lab’s most recent military satellite launch; the group – Rocket Lab Monitor – has taken its case to the local media; and, via billboards, etc, directly to the people. They have set up a Website

Opposition is also being organised on a more national scale – New Zealand is one of the most urbanised countries in the world and Rocket Lab’s assembly plant and headquarters is situated in the country’s biggest city, Auckland.
 
Murray Horton
Secretary/Organiser
Anti-Bases Campaign
Christchurch, New Zealand

April 20, 2021 Posted by | New Zealand, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc 

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc    https://theconversation.com/75-years-after-nuclear-testing-in-the-pacific-began-the-fallout-continues-to-wreak-havoc-158208?fbclid=IwAR3q9QJvy507ds2kD0ibOvkD6ZzxFqgGjfHsGrwqJUVMNpujOu8sAeLVPtY
April 6, 2021  Patricia A. O’Brien 
Patricia A. O’Brien is a Friend of The Conversation.Historian, Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Australian National University and Adjunct Professor in the Asian Studies Program, Georgetown University,    This year marks 75 years since the United States launched its immense atomic testing program in the Pacific. The historical fallout from tests carried out over 12 years in the Marshall Islands, then a UN Trust Territory governed by the US, have framed seven decades of US relations with the Pacific nation.Due to the dramatic effects of climate change, the legacies of this history are shaping the present in myriad ways.

This history has Australian dimensions too, though decades of diplomatic distance between Australia and the Marshall Islands have hidden an entangled atomic past.

In 1946, the Marshall Islands seemed very close for many Australians. They feared the imminent launch of the US’s atomic testing program on Bikini Atoll might split the earth in two, catastrophically change the earth’s climate, or produce earthquakes and deadly tidal waves.

A map accompanying one report noted Sydney was only 3,100 miles from ground zero. Residents as far away as Perth were warned if their houses shook on July 1, “it may be the atom bomb test”.

Australia was “included in the tests” as a site for recording blast effects and monitoring for atom bombs detonated anywhere in the world by hostile nations. This Australian site served to keep enemies in check and achieve one of the Pacific testing program’s objectives: to deter future war. The other justification was the advancement of science.

The earth did not split in two after the initial test (unless you were Marshallese) so they continued; 66 others followed over the next 12 years. But the insidious and multiple harms to people and place, regularly covered up or denied publicly, became increasingly hard to hide.

Radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukaemia, thyroid and other cancers became prevalent in exposed Marshallese, at least four islands were “partially or completely vapourised”, the exposed Marshallese “became subjects of a medical research program” and atomic refugees. (Bikinians were allowed to return to their atoll for a decade before the US government removed them again when it was realised a careless error falsely claimed radiation levels were safe in 1968.)

In late 1947, the US moved its operations to Eniwetok Atoll, a decision, it was argued, to ensure additional safety. Eniwetok was more isolated and winds were less likely to carry radioactive particles to populated areas.

Australian reports noted this site was only 3,200 miles from Sydney. Troubling reports of radioactive clouds as far away as the French Alps and the known shocking health effects appeared.

Dissenting voices were initially muted due to the steep escalation of the Cold War and Soviet atomic weapon tests beginning in 1949.

Opinion in Australia split along political lines. Conservative Cold War warriors, chief among them Robert Menzies who became prime minister again in 1949, kept Australia in lockstep with the US, and downplayed the ill-effects of testing. Left-wing elements in Australia continued to draw attention to the “horrors” it unleashed.

The atomic question came home in 1952, when the first of 12 British atomic tests began on the Montebello Islands, off Western Australia.   Australia’s involvement in atomic testing expanded again in 1954, when it began supplying South Australian-mined uranium to the US and UK’s joint defence purchasing authority, the Combined Development Agency.

Australia’s economic stake in the atomic age from 1954 collided with the galvanisation of global public opinion against US testing in Eniwetok. The massive “Castle Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in March exposed Marshall Islanders and a Japanese fishing crew on The Lucky Dragon to catastrophic radiation levels “equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero” in the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts. Graphic details of the fishermen’s suffering and deaths and a Marshallese petition to the United Nations followed.

When a UN resolution to halt US testing was voted on in July, Australia voted for its continuation. But the tide of public opinion was turning against testing. The events of 1954 dispelled the notion atomic waste was safe and could be contained. The problem of radioactive fish travelling into Australian waters highlighted these new dangers, which spurred increasing world wide protests until the US finally ceased testing in the Marshalls in 1958.

In the 1970s, US atomic waste was concentrated under the Runit Island dome, part of Enewetak Atoll (about 3,200 miles from Sydney). Recent alarming descriptions of how precarious and dangerous this structure is due to age, sea water inundation and storm damage exacerbated by climate change were contested in a 2020 Trump-era report.

The Biden administration’s current renegotiation of the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and its prioritisation of action on climate change, will put Runit Island high on the agenda. There is an opportunity for historical redress for the US that is even more urgent given the upsurge in discrimination against US-based Pacific Islander communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are peoples displaced by the tests.

Australia is also embarking on a new level of engagement with the Marshall Islands: it is due to open its first embassy in the capital Majuro in 2021.It should be remembered this bilateral relationship has an atomic history too. Australia supported the US testing program, assisted with data collection and voted in the UN for its continuation when Marshallese pleaded for it to be stopped. It is also likely Australian-sourced atomic waste lies within Runit Island, cementing Australia in this history.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New research into the effects of nuclear bomb tests on Montebello islands

Montebello Islands the focus of new research to test nuclear impact. 

By Susan Standen  22 Mar 21, A new Edith Cowan University research project hopes to collect important data on the impact of historical nuclear testing in the remote Montebello Islands area.

Key points:

  • New research will look at remaining radioactive residue in Montebello Islands
  • Plutonium nuclides persist in sediment of the marine environment
  • The research may be used in future to track fish migrations along the WA coast

Sixty years after the British government conducted nuclear explosion testing on the islands, there is little data available to find how much residue plutonium still exists.

The project hopes to be the first study to outline how and where man-made radioactivity is still existing in the marine sediment.

Collections of sediment are being collected from remote field trips to the islands to analyse amounts of residue plutonium radionuclides.,,,,,,,,,,,,

Ms Hoffman says other island nations affected by nuclear blasts will be able to use the Montebello Islands research as a reference baseline to start their own investigations.

Will it inform health research?

Ms Hoffman says the first step is to find out what remains there as a legacy…………..

The project is a collaboration between the Edith Cowan University, the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-22/montebellos-nucelar-fallout-research/13260242

March 23, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Outcry in Tahiti over nuclear fallout study

Outcry in Tahiti over nuclear fallout study  https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/438520/outcry-in-tahiti-over-nuclear-fallout-study 16 March 2021 Walter Zweifel, RNZ Pacific Reporter

walter.zweifel@rnz.co.nz   There is renewed alarm in French Polynesia over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.
There is renewed alarm in French Polynesia over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.

For test veteran groups, the latest findings by Disclose confirmed that France had been economical with the truth.

At the heart of their campaign is the push for compensation, which has been a decade-long battle over measured and measurable fallout.

The Disclose assessment, if accepted, would make thousands more sick people eligible for compensation, and incur on France an obligation to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars.

The pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru said he denounced the tests all along and claims that the Disclose study proves that contamination extended to all inhabited islands as well as to other Pacific countries.

According to him, the test legacy should be raised by the Pacific Islands Forum.

Temaru furthermore pointed to the UN resolution of 2013 which put French Polynesia on the decolonisation list.

He argued that France had to report to the UN about the health and environmental impact of its 193 nuclear weapons tests.

Temaru accused France of duplicity in the way it dealt with French Polynesia and also took a swipe at the territory’s rival political side, which defended the tests.

A former president Gaston Flosse admitted he travelled the Pacific to reassure the region of the tests’ safety, but said he would now oppose the tests with physical force if he had known what price the territory had to pay.

In a statement, Flosse said on one hand that if the Disclose study was correct then France lied to French Polynesians for years.

On the other hand, he said France must re-examine all compensation claims that have been rejected, and should also scrap the compensation law because its very basis no longer existed.

The French Atomic Energy Commission, the French defence minister and the French High Commissioner in French Polynesia have largely dismissed the Disclose study.

In essence, they saw no new elements or said the existing studies had taken all relevant information into account.

The French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch expressed surprise at the virulent reaction in Tahiti.

However, nearly three years ago he told the assembly that he himself had been telling lies about the tests for decades.

For now, the French compensation commission will continue to pay compensation within the established framework, benefiting at best dozens of people.

Compensation is paid out of a sense of national solidarity not because the French state recognises any liability.

March 17, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Time to clean up Bikini Atoll,to right the nuclear wrongs done to the Pacific islands people.

After 75 years, it’s time to clean Bikini   https://thebulletin.org/2021/03/after-75-years-its-time-to-clean-bikini/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=ThursdayNewsletter03112021&utm_content=NuclearRisk_CleanBikini_03082021

By Hart RapaportIvana Nikolić Hughes | March 9, 2021,   Due to their remote location in the Northern Marshall Islands, the people of Bikini Atoll were spared the worst of the mid-Pacific fighting between the American and Japanese armies in the final years of World War II. Their millennia-old culture and sustainable way of life ended abruptly when, in early 1946, Commodore Ben Wyatt, a representative of the occupying United States Navy, informed King Juda and other Bikini residents that the US would begin to test nuclear weapons near their homes. Wyatt asked the Bikinians to move elsewhere, stating that the temporary move was for “the good of mankind and to end all wars.” Though Wyatt may have believed his words to be true, the show of might by the US that followed neither ended all conflict, nor was the exodus short-lived. Seventy-five years later, Bikinians have yet to return.

Nuclear testing in Bikini and other Marshall Islands, which lasted from 1946 to 1958, received international attention at the time. In those early Cold War days, America demonstrated its nuclear prowess through images of mushroom cloud blasts towering over the Pacific on the cover of Time magazine and other prominent publications. The word Bikini infiltrated popular culture via the name of a two-piece swimsuit (named by a French designer to be “explosive”) and SpongeBob’s home, without simultaneously suffusing our conscience with an awareness of the injustices and suffering those blasts caused the Marshallese people.

It is time, finally, to recognize and right the wrongs perpetrated by the US government in the Marshall Islands. The US forced a new and dangerous technology on the native lands and peoples, without fully comprehending the short- and long-term consequences. The Marshall Islands–and Bikini specifically–ended up the site of most of the tests of US hydrogen bombs, weapons up to a thousand times more powerful than atomic bombs used in attacks on Japan in 1945. Later, when the refugees were briefly returned to Bikini after testing ended, they were exposed to harmful radiation amounts with devastating health effects.

To be sure, the US government has taken steps to monitor and address the contamination that resulted from these nuclear detonations. However, the status quo—studies by the Energy Department for the sake of scientific publications and reports, while Bikinians continue to live on other islands—is not only inadequate, but morally repugnant. Bikini is a native land and water that, over thousands of years, was critical to the people’s sustenance and the bedrock of their culture. While some of those who survived the decades of relocations are still alive, their children and grandchildren, including the descendants of King Juda, have yet to resettle their ancestral home. Without an immediate US-government-funded plan to resettle the living refugees, the millennia-long culture and history tied to the atoll may be lost forever. Also, as one of the highest lying islands in the region, Bikini could be the solution to challenges the Marshallese face from global warming and corresponding rise of sea levels.

But it’s not as simple as saying: “Let’s move the Bikinians back.” A permanent return to the atoll by a multi-generational community would risk serious health effects unless sources of remaining radiological contamination in Bikini’s fruit, soil, and lagoon are addressed and removed, according to our research at Columbia University’s K=1 Project, Center for Nuclear Studies. We have found radioactive materials throughout Bikini Atoll, resulting in background gamma radiation above the limit agreed upon by the Republic of the Marshall Islands and US and levels of cesium-137 in various fruits that violate most relevant international and domestic safety standards. Even the waters surrounding Bikini, a formerly plentiful source of food, are riddled with radioisotopes from the detonations. The cleanup may require a novel scientific approach on par with that used after the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents. That said, a modern nuclear testing cleanup protocol may prove useful in the event of future nuclear incidents in the United States or elsewhere.

The Biden administration has promised to lead in domestic and international spheres with morals and compassion. To do so, it must engage in a truthful, comprehensive accounting of past missteps in the Marshall Islands, regardless of whether the cost of reparations and resettlement exceeds its current pledge of roughly $110 million to Bikini. Commodore Wyatt’s allegedly “temporary” displacement of Bikinians from their native land has lasted 75 years and counting. Will the Biden administration act with morals to clean remaining radioactive material from US detonations? Will it act with compassion to help Bikinians find their way home?

March 13, 2021 Posted by | environment, history, indigenous issues, OCEANIA, Reference | Leave a comment

French Nuclear tests: revelations about a cancer epidemic

March 11, 2021 Posted by | France, health, OCEANIA, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

110, 000 people in French Polynesia affected by the radioactive fallout from atomic bomb tests

BBC 9th March 2021, Researchers used declassified French military documents, calculations and testimonies to reconstruct the impact of a number of the tests. They
estimated that around 110,000 people in French Polynesia were affected by
the radioactive fallout. The number represented “almost the entire”
population at the time, the researchers found.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-56340159

March 11, 2021 Posted by | France, health, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France has consistently underestimated the devastating impact of its nuclear tests in French Polynesia

Guardian 9th March 2021, France has consistently underestimated the devastating impact of its nuclear tests in French Polynesia in the 1960s and 70s, according to
groundbreaking new research that could allow more than 100,000 people to
claim compensation. France conducted 193 nuclear tests from 1966 to 1996 at
Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls in French Polynesia, including 41 atmospheric
tests until 1974 that exposed the local population, site workers and French
soldiers to high levels of radiation. By crunching the data from 2,000
pages of recently declassified French defence ministry documents, analysing
maps, photos and other records, and carrying out dozens of interviews in
France and French Polynesia, researchers have meticulously reconstructed
three key nuclear tests and their fallout.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/09/france-has-underestimated-impact-of-nuclear-tests-in-french-polynesia-research-finds

March 11, 2021 Posted by | France, history, indigenous issues, OCEANIA | Leave a comment