25 Mar 2009

French government nuclear compensation welcomed

12:25 pm on 25 March 2009

Some New Zealand veterans say they are surprised and pleased the French government will compensate victims of nuclear tests in the South Pacific.

Between 1960 and 1996, France carried out more than 200 nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia and Algeria.

Many of the 150-thousand people who witnessed the tests now have illnesses such as thyroid cancer and leukemia.

One of them, 62 year old Peter Mitchell served on the HMNS Canterbury from 1972 to 1974.

The ship spent time off the uninhabited French Polynesian atoll of Mururoa.

Mr Mitchell, who is President of the Mururoa Veterans Association, suffers from the radiation effects as a result of the nuclear tests.

He says the future of his family now looks more promising.

"That is neat because don't know if we passing on any diseases to our children or grandchildren, at least they will be looked after also."

The President of the Mururoa Veterans Association, Peter Mitchell says 500 New Zealanders went to the island of Mururoa.