PARIS – France's parliament on Tuesday passed a law to compensate victims of nuclear tests in Algeria and the South Pacific, a response to decades of complaints by people sickened by radiation.
The law cleared France's Senate on Tuesday, its final legislative hurdle following approval in the National Assembly in June.
France "can at last close a chapter of its history," Defense Minister Herve Morin said in a statement. He called the law "just, rigorous and balanced."
The text, hammered out with help from victims' associations, recognizes the right for victims of France's more than 200 nuclear tests to receive compensation. Victims' associations did not immediately return calls seeking comment late Tuesday.
Some 150,000 people, including civilian and military personnel, were on site for the 210 tests France carried out, both in the atmosphere and underground, in the Sahara Desert and the South Pacific from 1960-1996.
Compensation will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Victims are to submit a claim to a committee made up of seven representatives of the state and two members from outside the government, which will make a recommendation to the Defense Ministry. The ministry will then notify victims of its decision.
Morin has said that anyone with health problems who resided near the test sites would be eligible to seek payouts under the bill — including Algerians, whose country won independence from France in 1962, after the nuclear test program had started.
Presenting the draft law in March, Morin said it was time for France "to be at peace with itself."