Atomic Deserts A Survey of the World's Radioactive No-Go Zones

The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.

The Soviet nuclear testing site in present-day Kazakhstan is just one of many places in the world that remain dangerously radioactive to this day.

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Part 15: An Ill-Advised Test


DPA

It was only in 2010, the 50th anniversary of that first French test, that the French paper Le Parisien published secret papers from the French Defense Ministry revealing that 300 soldiers were purposefully exposed to radiation during the last test to see what effect it would have on the human body. Most of the soldiers were later diagnosed with cancer, and the survivors still suffer from the effects of the radiation. The scandal prompted the French government to provide €10 million in compensation for those affected by the 210 nuclear bomb tests it has carried out.

A report completed by the IAEA in 2005 at the request of the Algerian government found that no further measures were necessary to clean up the Sahara testing grounds. Radiation levels, the report found, were very weak. But Algerian victims' groups complain that France never carried out a decontamination program They say that cancer rates in the region are high and that children are often born with abnormalities.

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