France responds to Tahiti's nuclear compensation claim

3:03 pm on 3 December 2019

The head of the French agency dealing with nuclear test compensation, Alain Christnacht, says its hands are tied when it comes to reimbursing French Polynesia's social security agency CPS.

Picture taken in 1971, showing a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll.

Picture taken in 1971, showing a nuclear explosion in Mururoa atoll. Photo: AFP

Last month, the CPS again called on France to pay it $US770 million to cover the health costs of victims of the French nuclear weapons tests.

Mr Christnacht said he was bound by law, referring to a 2016 court decision which found that any compensation given to victims is paid out as a sign of France's national solidarity, and not because of any liability by the French state.

France tested 193 nuclear weapons in the South Pacific and until a first compensation law was introduced in 2010 the authorities maintained the tests were clean.

Speaking to local media following a week-long visit to Tahiti, Mr Christnacht said out of the 311 people who applied for compensation for radiation-induced illnesses, 121 had been accepted.

He said of those, 110 had been awarded money since the beginning of last year.

Mr Christnacht defended his agency's vetting process, which recognises 23 radiation-induced conditions.

Not all cancers in French Polynesia could be attributed to the nuclear tests, he added, saying some people might have developed the illness because of smoking, drinking or obesity.

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