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South Pacific islands prepare to sue French government for $1billion over nuclear tests

Pacific islands prepare to sue French government for $1billion over nuclear tests

The nuclear weapons tests were conducted from mid 1960s and saw government approved detonation of nearly 200 nuclear tests off atolls in French Polynesia

The Independent reports: The French Polynesia Assembly is preparing to ask Francois Holland’s government for nearly a billion dollars in compensation for damage caused to the islands by nuclear weapons tests.

Conservative anti-independence Tahoera’a Huiraatira party committee has apparently taken issue with the French testing regime that saw 210 nuclear tests conducted from 1966 to 1996 off secluded atolls in the south Pacific.

The committee, which is acting independently of Polynesian President Edouard Fritch, is asking for 930 million US dollars for environmental damage, according to daily Polynesian newspaper La Depeche de Tahiti.

In addition, the proposed resolution also seeks an additional 132 million for the continued occupation of the Fangataufa and Mururoa atolls.

France detonated its first thermonuclear weapon off the Fangataufa atoll in 1968, after ruling out other locations – such as the Sahara – and the decision was broadly accepted by the Polynesian public at the time.

Last year declassified French defence documents exposed that the islands had been hit with far more radiation than previously supposed. Tahiti – the most populated island – was exposed to 500 times more radiation than recommended.

In 2006 a French medical body found the increase of cancer on the islands were caused by nuclear testing. The French government only acknowledged veterans and survivors in 2010 that they would be legible for compensation – but warned the process would be long and complex thanks to the distribution of the islands.