French President François Hollande acknowledged Tuesday that nuclear tests carried out by his country in French Polynesia between 1960 and 1996 affected environment and health of residents. He also promised a review of the victim compensation process.
Hollande made the comments during his visit to the French Polynesian capital of Papeete and the acknowledgement is the clearest admission yet of the damage caused by the nuclear testing program, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. For decades France had denied its responsibility of the impact following the tests, fearing weakening of its nuclear program during the Cold War.
"I recognize that the nuclear tests between 1966 and 1996 in French Polynesia have had an environmental impact, causing health consequences," Hollande said in Papeete, according to AFP. "The processing of applications for compensation for victims of nuclear tests will be reviewed," Hollande added.
France conducted several nuclear tests in Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls during the time frame causing serious health problems among the residents. Following intense pressure, France offered millions of euros in 2010 in compensation for the government's 201 nuclear tests in the South Pacific and Algeria. However, many have still not received compensation, the Associated Press reported.