France to pay nuclear testing victims

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France has established a $13.5 million (10 million euro) fund to compensate people who claimed they became sick as a result of its four decades of nuclear testing in Algeria and French Polynesia, government officials announced yesterday.

Some 150,000 people were “theoretically” exposed to radiation from the more than 200 tests conducted between 1960 and 1996, French Defense Minister Herve Morin told the French newspaper Le Figaro, according to the New York Times. Until now, France has denied the radiation released had caused a host of ills, including cancer, in residents in neighboring communities and workers who conducted the tests.

“Thirteen years after the end of tests in the Pacific … it’s time for our country to be at peace with itself, thanks to a system of compensation and mending the damage that was suffered,” Morin said at a news conference in Paris yesterday, Reuters reports. “The burden of proof will be reversed: victims will no longer have to prove that their illness is due to the nuclear tests, but it will be up the state to contest that.”


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