Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Governments Offer to Victims of Nuclear Tests

We're supposed to feel good because the US compensates some victims? How sad. ...SB

March 25, 2009

A look at where some leading nuclear powers stand on offering compensation to victims of nuclear tests.

UNITED STATES: The U.S. is the only nation that currently compensates nuclear test victims. Since the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act was enacted in 1990, more than $1.38 billion in compensation has been approved. It goes to people who took part in the tests, notably at the Nevada Test Site, and to anyone exposed to the radiation.

FRANCE: The French government offered Tuesday to compensate victims for the first time. A draft bill to be submitted to parliament soon would allow payments to people who suffered health problems related to the tests. The payouts would be available to victims' descendants and would include Algerians, whose country was part of France when the French started nuclear testing in the Sahara in 1960. Victims say the eligibility requirements are too narrow.

BRITAIN: No formal British government compensation program exists. Nearly 1,000 veterans of Christmas Island nuclear tests in the 1950s are seeking to sue the Ministry of Defense for negligence. They say they suffered health problems and were warned of potential dangers only after the experiments.

RUSSIA: Decades afterward, Russia offered compensation to veterans who were part of the 1954 Totsk test, in which a Hiroshima-yield bomb was set off and then soldiers were sent in to test how fighting would proceed in a post-blast environment. Anti-nuclear groups say there has been no blanket government compensation for other tests. There was no compensation to civilians sickened by the Totsk test.

CHINA: China's nuclear program is highly secretive, as are its atomic tests in remote deserts in a Central Asian border province. Anti-nuclear activists say there is no known government program for compensating victims.

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