French nuclear tests in the Pacific: the hidden fallout that hit Tahiti

By Disclose

Beginning in 1966, France carried out close to 200 nuclear tests at its South Pacific territory of French Polynesia, 15,000 kilometres from Paris. The most contaminating were the nuclear bombs exploded in the atmosphere. This report from a series of investigations by Mediapart's editorial partner Disclose presents the extent of the radioactive fallout from one of those bombs in the Polynesian island of Tahiti, a hidden nuclear disaster that is estimated to have exposed 110,000 inhabitants to alarming levels of radioactivity.

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The year 1974 marked a turning point in France’s nuclear weapons tests. After eight years of atmospheric nuclear testing, the military decided to begin a series of underground tests, regarded as cleaner and, above all, less visible. But before that, France’s “Pacific experimentations centre”, the CEP, had established a programme for the final series of atmospheric tests which was described in an internal document as being “extremely tight”.