France drags its heels over nuclear compensation claims from Tahiti

11:43 am on 11 February 2020

The French nuclear compensation commission, CIVEN, says it will soon report on how to respond to last month's Supreme Court reinstatement of some compensation claims from French Polynesia.

View of the advanced recording base PEA "Denise" on Moruroa atoll, where French forces have conducted nuclear weapon tests until 1996.

Remnants of the testing infrastructure on Moruroa atoll Photo: AFP

The court approved the validity of two claims by nuclear weapons test victims thrown out last year, saying the old eligibility criteria were still relevant.

The applications had been dismissed because a clause was added to a French finance act in late 2018, which changed the entitlement terms and quashed the claims.

The current compensation law now again requires proof of a minimum level exposure to the weapons tests.

CIVEN said it is reviewing how it can apply the decision to its mandate.

In 2017, six of CIVEN's nine members resigned when the eligibility criteria were loosened, and as a result its work was briefly suspended.

Twenty-three types of cancer are on the list of illnesses recognised as the possible aftermath of France's weapons tests.

The Supreme Court ruled three years ago that CIVEN is to attribute payments to victims out of national solidarity.

This means that the French state is legally not responsible for ill health caused by the weapons tests.

Between 1966 to 1996, France carried out 193 nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia.