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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, June 14) – For the second time in less than a week, a French military pensions tribunal has ruled that a former nuclear test site worker is to be granted a life pension for health problems resulting from his service on a nuclear testing site.

The French military pensions tribunal in the French harbour town of Brest yesterday ruled that 67-year-old Michel Cariou, who is also a member of the French Nuclear Veterans association AVEN, will be granted a lifetime pension because of his illness.

As another French pensions tribunal ruled last week, Monday's Brest ruling acknowledges a link between the veteran's service on a nuclear test facility and his subsequent illness.

Michel Cariou was employed to measure radioactivity levels on French Polynesia's Moruroa island and witnessed there some 31 tests between 1966 and 1972.

France carried out nuclear tests on Moruroa and Fangataufa between 1966 and 1996.

During the first eight years (1966-1974), the tests were atmospheric (in the open air).

They later turned underground.

"My favourite pastime was to swim in the lagoon, every day, to collect shells and coral... There has never been any warning or restriction to swim in the Moruroa lagoon which, obviously, was contaminated ... The only thing we saw is that on a test day, boats would go away, but they were coming back the same evening," he told French national television.

Cariou, whose thyroid gland had to be removed, was claiming damages.

He is one of the rare veterans to have obtained access to his medical file, which contained a urine analysis that was shelved for over thirty years.

"I got these measurements analysed and interpreted and I found out that these showed that I (my urine) contained levels of Strontium 90, that is 45 times higher than the legally accepted level."

Last week, in another landmark ruling, another French military pensions tribunal in Tours ruled that a former nuclear test site worker is to be granted a life pension for invalidity resulting from his service on a nuclear testing site in Algeria's Sahara desert in the 1960s.

65-year-old André Mézières, who was a corporal when he worked on French army nuclear testing site of Reggane (Algeria, Sahara desert) between February 1962 and March 1964 as part of his national military service, is suffering from a polymyositis, a slow, degenerating illness affecting his nervous system and particularly his muscles.

The illness has gradually paralysed him to a point where he can hardly walk without a cane.

June 14, 2005

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