French soldiers used as ‘nuclear guinea pigs’

This video says about itself:

In 1985 the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk by the French DGSE in Auckland, New Zealand, as it prepared for another protest of nuclear testing in French military zones. One crew member, Fernando Pereira of Portugal, photographer, drowned on the sinking ship while attempting to recover his photographic equipment. Two members of DGSE were captured and sentenced, but eventually repatriated to France in a controversial affair.

There were 210 French nuclear tests from 1960 until 1996. 17 of them were done in the Algerian Sahara between 1960 and 1966, starting in the middle of the Algerian War (1954-1962). 193 were carried out in French Polynesia.

From AFP news agency:

French soldiers used as ‘nuclear guinea pigs

By Michel Moutot – 6 hours ago

PARIS — France used soldiers as guinea pigs in nuclear tests in the 1960s, deliberately exposing them to radiation from atomic blasts to test the effects, according to a report revealed on Tuesday.

The secret military report, obtained by AFP, said that between 1960 and 1966 France sent troops onto Algerian desert test sites “to study the physiological and psychological effects caused on humans by an atomic weapon.”

One operation in 1961 involved military personnel advancing on foot and in trucks to within a few hundred metres (yards) of the epicentre of a nuclear blast less than an hour after detonation, according to the report.

The conscripts were given 45 minutes to dig foxholes in the contaminated desert earth, protected only by the military-issue boots, capes, gloves and simple face masks.

“It appeared from the results that at 800 metres from point zero and outside the fall-out zone, the combatant was physically able to continue fighting,” the report said.

The tests aimed to help the military develop “physical preparation and morale training for the modern combatant” and teach soldiers how to protect themselves after a nuclear blast, it said.

France has allocated 10 million euros ($13.6 million) to compensate victims of nuclear tests in the Sahara and in Polynesia, but bitter political and medical fallout still lingers 50 years after the tests.

According to campaigners, children are still born with deformities in the irradiated Algerian desert, while in France elderly army veterans complain of multiple unexplained cancers.

AVEN, an association representing the troops exposed to the 210 tests carried out by France in Algeria and French Polynesia between 1960 and 1996, says it has gathered 4,500 testimonies from victims and their spouses.

“Immediately after the explosion, they said to us ‘go and look at the result’,” said one veteran, August Ribet, 74, who suffers from throat cancer.

“They gave us nice suits in white fabric which were no use at all, and a gas mask,” he said, speaking to AFP recently. Ribet hopes one day that the courts will recognise him as a victim of the tests.

Defence Minister Herve Morin told AFP he would ensure “transparency” concerning the levels of radiation in all of France’s nuclear tests.

The report by unnamed military officials dates back to 1998. Morin said that in 2007 the defence ministry made a summary of the findings of what he described as “tactical experiments” in Algeria.

The hydrogen bomb’s sickening effects on U.S. airmen.

On November 3, 1960, Félix-Roland Moumié, a nationalist revolutionary from Cameroon, was assassinated on a trip to Switzerland by French secret service agents. Moumié, 35, was administered a fatal dose of thallium in Geneva: here.

Ex-servicemen who say they were made ill after being exposed to radiation during British nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s took their battle for compensation to Britain’s highest court today: here.

A bid by hundreds of former soldiers to claim damages after they were exposed by the army to radiation during British nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s was rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday: here.

USA: ‘TROOPS WHO CLEANED UP RADIOACTIVE ISLANDS CAN’T GET MEDICAL CARE’ “Roughly 4,000 troops helped clean up the Enewetak Atoll between 1977 and 1980. Like Mr. Snider, most did not even wear shirts, let alone respirators. Hundreds say they are now plagued by health problems, including brittle bones, cancer and birth defects in their children. Many are already dead. Others are too sick to work.” [NYT]


Beetle and other wildlife discoveries in England

This video is called A trip to see the colony of seals at Blakeney Point, Norfolk, England.

From the BBC:

Rare beetles found at Blakeney National Nature Reserve

A rare type of Rove Beetle has been spotted at Blakeney Point

Two species of beetle that are new to Norfolk have been discovered as part of 187 different beetle varieties found at Blakeney National Nature Reserve.

Nine experts found a Rove and a Fungus Beetle as part of a survey on “small, but important wildlife”.

They also found 41 lichen species, 24 types of spider and five types of ant.

“We are indebted to these wonderful volunteers,” said Stuart Warrington, National Trust nature conservation advisor.

“Without them we just would not know how important Blakeney Point is for insects and other invertebrates,” he added.

The full names for the new Norfolk beetles are the Red Data Book Rove Beetle called Phytosus nigriventris and a nationally scarce Fungus Beetle called Leiodes ciliaris.

The survey, which took place in September 2009, also unveiled a Sap Beetle Nitidula carnaria, which had not been recorded in Norfolk since the 19th Century, and the Clown Beetle Gnathoncus nanus with only its second appearance in recent history.

Nationally rare ant species Myrmica specioides were also discovered.

Successful summer

The survey rounded off a successful summer for wildlife at Blakeney Point, famously known for its seals, as its breeding birds had a good season with the Sandwich Tern colony growing to 3100 pairs, up from 2400 pairs in 2008.

Other highlights were the 86 pairs of Little Terns that nested on the Point’s shingle beaches and produced 52 fledglings and 13 pairs of Ringed Plover, which raised 12 chicks.

Red alert warning for Europe’s dragonflies, beetles and butterflies, here.