French President Emmanuel Macron, on his first official trip to French Polynesia, said that Paris owes 'a debt' to the local population over nuclear tests carried out there between 1966 and 1996, including 63 atmospheric blasts which exposed inhabitants of the South Pacific territory to radiation.
The French parliament on Thursday adopted a reform of the organic law that sets out the new measures of autonomy granted by Paris to French Polynesia. Importantly, the legislation includes, for the first time in such a text, a finely tuned recognition that the French nuclear tests were imposed on the South Pacific territory – where a total of 193 bombs were exploded underground, at sea and in the open air over three decades, beginning in 1966 – and the “radiation-induced illnesses” these have provoked. Julien Sartre reports.
Oscar Temaru, campaigning ahead of independence elections in April, has said it was scandalous that France knew about the risks posed to the local population by the 193 nuclear test blasts cordered by Paris in French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996, and demanded that France assume responsibility for the former workers at Moruroa who are now seeking compensation.
Fifty years ago this month, France began carrying out tests of its nuclear bombs in the Pacific Ocean territory of French Polynesia. These were the first of what would become decades of atmospheric and underground nuclear explosions in total disregard for the health of the local population and environment. After years of campaigning, victims of the fallout earlier this month obtained a revision of the rigorous criteria governing financial compensation paid to those who have developed serious illnesses following the tests, and which in effect bars most from receiving any indemnity. But, as Julien Sartre reports, the move has been slammed by victims’ rights associations as simply tinkering at the edges of a shameful legal refusal to recognise the lethal damage caused by the tests.