French nuclear tests exposed entire Polynesian population to radiation, new study reveals

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Mar 10, 2021, 03:09 PM(IST)

This picture taken in 1970 shows a French nuclear test at Mururoa, French Polynesia. Researchers have established a link between France's nuclear tests over the Pacific ocean in the late 1960s and the high incidence of thyroid cancer in Polynesia.  Photograph:( AFP )

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The study found that a shocking 110,000 people, mostly concentrated in French Polynesia were directly affected by the nuclear fallout.

The impact of nuclear tests undertaken by France between 1960s-1990s may have been underestimated all this time, a study says. Based on declassified French documents and other records, the study attempted to reconstruct the impact of French nuclear tests.

The study found that a shocking number of people, mostly concentrated in French Polynesia were directly affected by the nuclear fallout. Think this is scary? Turns out, almost all of the population of French Polynesia (over 110,000) was exposed to radioactive air.

French Polynesia is a territory consisting hundreds of islands, and was the site of multiple nuclear tests decades ago.

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To reach their conclusion, researched assessed over 2,000 military documents and attempted to retrace the impact of French nuclear tests in terms of contamination. The most dangerous tests were overseen between 1966-1974. Disclose (a news website), a British firm called Interprt, and researchers from Princeton University worked on the project together.

The test conducted on July 17, 1974 over Mururoa Atoll caused a lot of fallout. Two days after the test, the inhabitants of the region were exposed to unprecedented radiation.

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The investigation shows that the real impact of radiation was over ten times higher than what was revealed in an official report by the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in 2006. Researchers claim that this was owing to the CEA failing to take officially consider contamination that took place through drinking water.

The study is being used to ascertain whether people affected by radiation are eligible for compensation.

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