Saturday, August 11, 2012

#Radioactive Pacific: Murorua Atoll, the Site of French Nuclear Testing Is in Danger of Collapsing, Says The Nuclear Association in French Polynesia

According to Wikipedia, the French government conducted 41 atmospheric nuclear tests at Mururoa (Murorua, Moruroa, Mururua) between 1966 and 1974, and underground tests until 1996. Total number of tests, according to wiki, is 181.

(The photograph is from Encyclopedia Britannica, from the Licorne test, July 3, 1970.)

(What were the French thinking?)

From Australian ABC News (8/10/2012; emphasis is mine):

Nuclear fears over French Polynesia atoll collapse

The Nuclear Association in French Polynesia has raised concerns that Murorua Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, is in danger of collapsing.

Murorua e Tatou says the issue was detailed in a leaked report from the Ministry of Defence to the French government dated March 2010.

The Nuclear Association's president, Roland Oldham, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that radioactive material could be released into the Pacific Ocean if the atoll were to collapse.

"Just in that little area there is over maybe twelve underground tests in that area and we have to remember that France have done altogether 193 nuclear test explosions in Murorua," he said.

"In the soil of Muroroa, if something happens there is about 150 holes containing very dangerous radioactivity."

The association says if the atoll were to collapse it could also trigger a 15 metre tsunami.

'Hidden information'

Mr Oldham is concerned the government didn't make the report available to the public earlier.

"This information was very discrete, I mean we only got this information now," he said.

"I mean the report is from 2010, why wait so long?

"So the public is not very aware of this situation."

Mr Oldham says the report doesn't properly emphasise the serious threat posed by the buried radioactive material.

"In this report that we got not too long ago, they're not even talking about radioactivity," he said.

"The way they present it it's like it's not very dangerous."

Raising public awareness

Mr Oldham says the association has been trying to raise the issue with the government and public.

"We've been trying to raise the consciousness of the people - our own people and our government and all the rest about this really frightening thing that could happen if actually one part of Murorua would collapse," he said.

The association want independent experts to be allowed to conduct a study to provide more information about the danger of the atoll collapsing.

Mr Oldham says if the atoll collapses there could be international ramifications.

"We have to warn everybody because the problem will not only concern some of the atolls that are only 100 kilometres from Murorua," he said.

"But I think it will 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."

(H/T readers of this blog for the link)


Anonymous said...

On July 25th 1979 there was an accident with a 150kt explosion under Monuroa. The bomb became stuck halfway down the shaft and they couldn't remove it so they detonated it shallow. This caused an unexpected local tsunami that killed some of the technicians monitoring the detonation. A 1981 study of the island done by team led by Haroun Tazieff estimated the accident cleaved one million cubic meters of coral off the atoll this study also uncovered other disturbing facts.

I read about this in a book called "Poisoned Reign" I don't remember the author but I'm sure it is just a google away.

Hélios said...

Hello Ultraman !

Thanks to our former french republic presidents !

Real risk of tsunami...if atoll collapses.

Many articles in 2011 and 2012. But mainstream media don't talk about it.

I got this one (26 juillet 2012):

Anonymous said...

Seems like there's a lot of these kinds of incidents waiting in the wings. We're only just starting to hear about a few of them now. Maybe it's because Fukushima and the internet have made it more difficult for the nuclear industry to perpetuate the illusion of safety.

I'm absolutely confident in saying that both the people then and now lack sufficient foresight and are incapable of responsibly wielding such power. Who knows what other disasters sown decades ago are waiting to blow up? What we do today will also be waiting to explode in our faces a few decades down the line.

sipieter nicolas said...

@helios & ex-skf

french governement is as rotten as it can be.
they completely censor unwanted information,
for example we also don't get *any* news about Japan as well, in the mainstream media!

or even the Occupy ... movement worldwide is also getting completely censored.

they prefer to put people at sleep, hyping unimportant news to get everybody's attention shifted away from real topics.

they need the Anonymous treatement to learn how unacceptable it is to lie, conceal the truth and brainwash its own pepole.

Anonymous said...

'dilution' - as if that would help at all. Fukushima in the ocean, all those tests, and even more catastrophes looming is having, has had for decades, altered the very stuff of life itself... embeeded in bodies for life, radiating beyond deaths, altering DNA,and thus inducing diseases, genetic mutations, shortened lives, disabled lives and for ALL subsequent generations!! The level of systemic arrogance by Nations (USA, UK, France, USSR now Russia, Japan, Germany...) has perpetuated with NO REASONABLE consideration for the lives of their own people, the lives of indigenous peoples robbed of their homelands and peaceful existence on their own properties; the increases of chronic diseases and increased, horrible mutations and increased morbidity... in more and more children as wel...ALL because of war-govt-industry machine that does not value, peace, sovereinity of nations, basic respect for the right for all peoples to life... If I could I would remove them all to some hell of their own making right now, along with all their nuclear materials, to live out thousands of years of their bad karma... right now... so we could have chance at restoring our only home... Gaia, our planet.
What madmess has man wreaked upon the entire planet is one after another after another agreeing that life is not precious, that profits and millions were more important that life, public health.
BEIR VII, slide #19 "THE ISSUE: (pointing ot that raising 'acceptable limits is beneficial the blatantly present again and again to decision makers globally. "$millions v health"

They have destroyed all known life and for that, whether you believe in God's Judgment or Karma, each one who participated in the perpetual nuclear war machine, will surely be headed to hell for as long as the planet remains contaminated.

Anonymous said...

It's the end of the world as we know it....

Atomfritz said...

The damaged reefs and their highly-contaminated lagoons are another thing the nuclear lobby wants to stay a taboo.

Look at this image to understand the "construction principle" of atolls:

You see, these atolls abused as atomic bomb test sites are actually massive limestone towers constructed by corals over millions of years.

These "marine towers" have very steep walls and many of them are several kilometers high.
The crest, the surface visible atoll has got perforated and cracked by a plethora of nuclear bombs.

See a cut through an atoll's surface part here:

You see, if a small part of the reef crest breaks off, collapses into the sea and falls a few kilometers deep, this could well cause a big tsunami and would lead to mixing of the lagoon sweetwater and the sea's saltwater, destroying the lagoon's ecosystem and contaminating the sea.

This is a thing the nuclear criminals of USA, UK and France prefer not to be known widely, of course. So, thank you very much for reporting!

Anonymous said...

The tower of Pisa, the SFP at Fuku daichi n°4 building, the advanced (or old) world economy and yes, even my 98 years old mam and yes even my humble self threaten to colapse.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so there is a leaked report that is very frightening according to Mr. Oldham whose goal is to raise the public's awareness to this worldwide threat.

Why not publish the report?

Why a cryptic statement such as, "In the soil of Muroroa, if something happens there is about 150 holes containing very dangerous radioactivity" instead of some concrete information as to what is -likely- in it and what the release could mean?

Especially if a serious contamination threat exists, the vagueness results in a complete lack of credibility! (I'm assuming a tidal wave in case of a collapse is quite plausible.)

It is also not clear (to me anyway) if this leaked report is about a total collapse or a partial collapse, which has been in discussion in some media before, for example, March 2011 here:

Looking at what the IAEA has to say to this, of course, everything is fine. (Is it ever not?)


"... Extensive assessments were carried out of the underground situation. This involved independent estimation of the yield of each test and the total inventory of radionuclides, and modelling of the migration of radionuclides through cracks in the rocks. The dispersion of radionuclides in the lagoons and the ocean was also modelled. Finally, estimates were made of the radiation dose that could be received by atoll dwellers and nearby inhabitants both now and in the future. ..."

"... Two kinds of release of radionuclides were considered in the Study: first, releases following normal migration of residual radioactive material through the volcanic and carbonate rocks from the underground cavities; and second, hypothetical releases that might occur as the consequence of some imagined disruptive event. Once the radionuclides escape from underground, either to the lagoons or directly through the sides of the atolls, they become available for dispersion in the ocean. ..."

"... The radiological consequences of plausible potential disruptive events, such as potential climate change and the underwater rock slide, were also examined. Even on the basis of very pessimistic assumptions, the highest hypothetical annual dose to residents of the nearest inhabited atolls in the years immediately following a rock slide would be no more than a few thousandths of a millisievert, an extremely small increment of around 0.1 percent of the natural background radiation in the area. ..."

(Full 1998 report here:

While I personally wouldn't want to rely on an IAEA publication any further than I can throw it, I'd still need a lot more information than what Mr. Oldham provided before I'd predict "the end of the world as we know it," as was done in a post above.

Atomfritz said...

Thank you for the links!

The abstract of the French nuclear safety officials study the Polynesians worry about is here:

They are talking of 670 million cubic meters sliding into the deep sea. This would be a cube of material 875 meters long, high and deep. So I hope they are talking of a partial collapse "only", given the size of the atoll.

From igniting 196 nukes there will be at least a few hundred kilograms of plutonium, cesium and strontium each in the caverns of this cracky, slowly collapsing atoll. Most of it will get buried in the rubble, so it won't be a big deal, I guess.

Except for the Polynesians who can say "thank you" to Gaulle, for being wiped off the islands, so they don't really need to worry about radioactivity.

Atomfritz said...

Umm. I meant "no big deal" only in the sense that throwing the equivalent of a Fukushima reactor into the sea at Moruroa won't be a big deal for big business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Encore lâché une caisse... c'est une maladie.

Celà dit, le rapport est assez inquiétant. "Certains lêve-tôt, d'autres paient tard..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Atomfritz, for the additional information. There wouldn't be, by any chance, an English translation available of the report or its abstract?

I totally get the part with the dire threat a tsunami poses to the Polynesians, but I'm still not much clearer on the threat from radionuclides to the environment.

Does the extent of the contamination danger in a partial or complete collapse - at the very least - not depend on exactly what is collapsing and to what depth? And, of course, how the collapsed parts relate to the actual location and depth of underground cavities that resulted from tests and safety trials?

I'm not sure one can simply say: X number of tests times X kg of plutonium = what will be swept into the ocean. Especially, as I understand it, the plutonium (and maybe other substances?) are molten into lava within the caverns.

The very vague statements of Mr. Oldham in the ABC news report can only leave me guessing: Since he said the leaked report does not even mention radioactivity, he wants an independent study that assesses the threat from the radionuclides?

In that case and given the lack of concrete information, I'm just not sure it is justifiable to speak of a danger with "international ramifications," as he did, or to predict the end of the world as we know it, as was posted here before.
Unless you are Polynesian, of course, and powers in charge don't give a damn about a tsunami wiping you out.

Anonymous said...

0 mscharisma above,
if you're really more interested in Moruora than having a tender time with your partner, you can search all the wiki or above given links, and you will find information. In english, and from different sides.
I would not advise you follow anyone commenting on this blog frequently, who seems to think that after all Zyklon B was a good shower soap for some kind of non-aryen population. This does not mean he has no technical understanding, alas.

Atomfritz said...

Umm, there are several observations hinting against the assumption that subterranean nuclear testing bomb caverns keep the fission radionuclides safely in their trinitite-lookalike walls.

First of all, the radioactivity metered in the resulting cavern is very low. Too low if you consider the quantity of plutonium used and fission products that have been generated. The radioactive materials thus have "disappeared", as the nuclearists call it.

But they cannot have disappeared. So, where did they go?

Remember, there is extreme pressure in conjunction to the extremely "fracking" shock.
The high pressure in conjunction with the extreme temperature forms a factual vacuum, pressing the fussion products far away from the later cavern into the fracked surrounding bedstone, where they eventually condensate. This happens in a distance that guarantees good shielding through the remaining bedrock.

So the assumption that the majority of fission products condensate in the molten glass of the cavern walls could well be wrong.
The resulting molten glass structure is actually only the remains of the inner zone where temperatures were sufficiently high to melt glass.
But most of the contamination is outside of this inner zone, in a condensated state, ready for re-solutioning, and not in a vitrified state.
If the bedrock collapses into the ocean, these soluble fission products get into water.

Or, if salt domes (like in USA) leak, or, or...

Please keep this in mind, it explains the disadvantage of using instable geological formations like atolls for nuke testing.

But in the international politics about 300 dead Polynesians of the neighboring island probably are no issue, I agree.

Anonymous said...


Thanks as always for the information. Much appreciated.

"... So the assumption that the majority of fission products condensate in the molten glass of the cavern walls could well be wrong. ..."

Whether it is wrong or not, I wouldn't know. The folks that worked on the study for the IAEA, if I understand correctly, seem to think the majority of the plutonium and some other "stuff" ends up in the lava.

Page 98 of the IAEA study report ( claims that "... the actinides and lanthanides are known to be incorporated predominantly in the lava. On the basis of a survey of the information available to the Study, an appropriate value for the partitioning of plutomum [I'm assuming that should read plutonium] into the lava would appear to be about 98%."

Whether in the lava (most ideal), the rubble in the cavity, the water, or the surrounding bedrock, page 102 states later on in a summary that "... the total underground inventory at the two atolls is small compared with that previously released in atmospheric tests and ... the concentration of alpha emitting radionuclides in the lava is equivalent to that in a uranium deposit containing 0.7% uranium. ..."

On subsequent pages throughout the report, calculations are made for releases in case of catastrophic events such as a landslide triggered by an earthquake, for example, that might break open the caverns themselves and/or additional release paths for whatever is contained in the caverns and surrounding bedrock. Any which way they turn it, the study comes up with relatively minor amounts affecting "only" geographically close locations in the near future. Of course, this may very well be based on the supposedly known fact that the majority of the plutonium is molten into the lava and not easily and quickly released into the environment.

Admittedly, this is all a bit over my head, but in the absence of concrete information with modeling and calculations indicating otherwise, I'm not ready to jump on the "oh my God, the end is near" fear bandwagon. Although I would, of course, agree to the general premise that any radioactive material released cannot possibly be good thing.

Atomfritz said...

Thank you mscharisma for finding this interesting document.

In chapter 5.4.2 they explain this "fracking" phenomenon which caused atmospheric radioactivity releases in at least six percent of underground tests in the US alone, much more than usually publicly admitted.
Together with the observed lack of intense gamma radiation one should expect in the cavern if the assumption that fission products concentrate in the molten lava this indicates that the fission products travel far further than currently being admitted publicly.

Remember the US analyzing the radioactive releases from the underground North Korean nuke tests?
So there seems to be another nuclear lie in stating that underground nuclear testing doesn't result in atmospheric contamination.

But to keep things in perspective, chapter 5.11 is worth reading, as one can see that the releases in a potential collapse of the Moruroa atoll would be so minor that there wouldn't be much contamination consequences, even if all the radioactivity contained would be released and distributed instantly.

It would be the same with the disused nuclear reactors dumped into the sea by the nuclear powers which usually are being covered by the seabed, limiting the releases.
So there is indeed no need to exaggerate the nuclear risk. It's bad enough that the colonialist Western nuclear powers recklessly turned these paradises of Polynesian atolls into nuclear wastelands.

Anonymous said...

@ Atomfritz:

Agree, something doesn't seem to completely add up as far as what is contained in lava and what gets released into geosphere and atmosphere.

"... It's bad enough that the colonialist Western nuclear powers recklessly turned these paradises of Polynesian atolls into nuclear wastelands. ..."

Could not agree more! Sickening!!

Anonymous said...

I Would strongly recommend the book "Poisoned Reign: French Nuclear Colonialism in the Pacific" 1986 by Swedish Author/Traveller/Explorer/Ambassador/Kon-Tiki member Bengt Danielsson in which he gives a detailed eye-witness report about the disgusting pirate politics by the french government, especially the bastard DeGaulle, that transpired from the 50's up until now.

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