23 Dec 2009

France approves compensation law for nuclear weapons test victims

6:47 pm on 23 December 2009

The French parliament has approved a law offering compensation to the victims of nuclear weapons tests carried out by France between 1960 and 1996.

The bill was approved by the French Senate hours after the National Assembly passed the measure.

The ruling UMP voted for the law while the Socialists in the assembly abstained.

The Communists and the Greens voted against the law amid claims that the compensation process is controlled by the defence ministry.

Under the provisions of the bill the new compensation scheme will apply to former soldiers and civilians that developed cancers and other illnesses after exposure to radiation from nuclear tests carried out in Algeria and French Polynesia.

The last test was carried out in 1996.

The French defence ministry says about 150,000 civil and military workers took part in the tests.

Residents living near the test sites will also be eligible to apply for compensation.

In French Polynesia, veterans, the churches and political parties consider the law to be inadequate.