Radiation Exposures and Compensation of Victims of French Atmospheric Nuclear Tests in Polynesia

Sébastien Philippe, Sonya Schoenberger, Nabil Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Between 1966 and 1974, France conducted 41 atmospheric nuclear weapon tests in French Polynesia, exposing local populations to radioactive fallout. Under French law, individuals who were present at the time and later developed certain radiogenic cancers are eligible for compensation from the government—unless it is proven that they could not have received effective doses greater than 1 mSv in any given year. Using new information available from recently declassified documents, as well as atmospheric transport modeling of radioactive fallout, this article shows that upper-bound government estimates of effective doses received by the public have been underestimated by factors of 2 to 10. As a result, approximately 110,000 people, representing 90% of the French Polynesian population at the time, could have received doses greater than 1 mSv per year. Integrating updated dose estimates into the claim adjudication process would enlarge the pool of eligible claimants by a factor of 10.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-94
Number of pages33
JournalScience and Global Security
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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