Radioactivity Under the Sand – French Nuclear Tests in Algeria

Patrice Bouveret and Jean-Marie Collin | Heinrich Böll Foundation

This case study on the waste from French nuclear tests in Algeria in the 1960s, provide ample technical and political reasons why we cannot and should not close the chapter of nuclear testing and why the TPNW is an answer.

As we explained, from the beginning of tests (February 13, 1960) France set up a policy of burying all waste in the sands. The desert is seen as an “ocean” (and later the Pacific ocean will be a “trash” too for the nuclear waste of Moruora and Fangataufa) and everything that may have been contaminated by radioactivity (screwdriver to planes and tanks….) had to be buried. And France has never revealed where they buried these wastes or how much was buried.

This study is the first inventory of the waste materials in these areas, particularly radioactive ones. This waste should be subject to in-depth identification and recovery work in these areas by specialized teams involving independent observers. A work that now appears to become possible with the TPNW. As you know the articles 6 (Victim assistance and environmental remediation) and 7 (International cooperation and assistance) include positive obligations for protecting people, future generations, environment, and wildlife from this pollution. This study is therefore also part of the implementation of Treaty


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