Small doses of radiation cause cancer in children – research from France
Victims of French nuclear tests see hope in cancer link finding http://www.france24.com/en/20120717-france-nuclear-tests-polynesia-algeria-radiation-cancer-victims-compensation-health Victims of French nuclear tests say a report establishing a link between exposure to radiation and cases of cancer may prove decisive in their lengthy battle for compensation. By Andrea Davoust
Thanks to a landmark medical expert’s report, a new link has been established between France’s nuclear testing in the Pacific and North Africa and cases of cancer among civilians and former military personnel.
The findings, revealed by daily Le Parisien on Tuesday, could help speed up the lengthy legal process to compensate potential victims of these tests.
The French army conducted 210 nuclear tests in Algeria, a former
French colony, and French Polynesia between 1960 and 1996.
An estimated 150,000 civilians and military personnel are thought to
have been present during the tests, but the French state has long been
reluctant to acknowledge the effects the tests may have had on their
health. A ‘likely’ cancer link
Timeline: Four decades of French nuclear tests
Florent de Vathaire, an epidemiologist who carried out the research at
the request of a French judge, told Le Parisien there was evidence of
a “likely link” between the radioactivity generated by the nuclear
tests and the development of various forms of cancer.
Vathaire cited the cases of a conscript who was merely told to shield
his eyes with his forearm while observing nuclear explosions in 1968,
dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. The soldier later died of leukaemia,
a form of blood cancer the researcher said should be blamed on his
stay in Mururoa, a Pacific atoll used by France as a nuclear testing
The epidemiologist said France’s nuclear tests may have taken their
toll on local populations as well. “Thanks to recent studies, we are now certain that small doses of radiation can seriously affect the thyroids of young children, causing cancers or other illnesses,” he added
A lengthy legal battle
AVEN, a pressure group for victims of nuclear tests, said Tuesday’s
report would help improve existing legislation on compensation for
The French parliament passed a law in 2010 establishing a compensation
fund for victims of nuclear tests, but the victims’ association says
it is so restrictive that hardly anyone is eligible.
“To fit the conditions set by the law, you had to live in a precisely
defined geographical area, you had to suffer from the ‘right’ kind of
illness and so on,” AVEN’s Patrice Bouveret told FRANCE24. “Out of the
720 applications we sent, only four were even considered.”
Bouveret said he hoped the report would convince France’s Defence
Ministry to grant judges access to classified documents “showing the
effect of nuclear tests as measured by the army at the time”.
No comments yet.