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Government offers compensation to nuclear test victims

Article published on the 2009-03-24 Latest update 2009-03-24 10:19 TU

French Defense Minister Hervé Morin, Paris, 17 March 2009.(Photo: Reuters)

French Defense Minister Hervé Morin, Paris, 17 March 2009.
(Photo: Reuters)

French Defence Minister Hervé Morin announced a compensation package Tuesday, with a first installment of ten million euros for people exposed to radiation during France’s nuclear bomb tests in the Sahara Desert and in French Polynesia.

The compensation will be doled out to an estimated 150,000 civilians and military personnel who participated in the tests and now suffer from one or more of 18 ailments identified by the government, including leukemia, breast and thyroid cancer.

Not included in this estimate are an unknown number of Algerians and Polynesians who lived in the areas surrounding the test sites, who will also be eligible for compensation.

France conducted 210 nuclear tests between 1960 and 1996, when then-President Jacques Chirac signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Morin identified several where radiation was not completely confined, singling out the test of 1 May 1962, when powerful radioactive fallout was found to have fallen as far as 150 km from the test site in the Algerian Sahara.