Compensation of victims of French nuclear testing

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Law No. 2010-2 of January 5, 2010, created a compensation scheme for victims of French nuclear testing, by virtue of which any person with a radiation-induced disease, resulting from exposure to ionizing radiation, can obtain full compensation for the prejudice suffered. This scheme establishes a presumption of causality. This presumption may be withdrawn if the nature of the disease and the conditions of exposure of the claimant are such that the risk attributable to nuclear testing could be considered negligible. The effectiveness, of this ambitious and awaited scheme, turned out to be rather modest, given that few claims culminated in compensation. Withdrawal of the presumption of causality was the primary reason for rejection. Motivated by a desire to see victims compensated, Parliament recently voted to eliminate the notion of negligible risk. This modification to the scheme illustrates the difficulty in trying to reconcile legal causality and scientific causality.

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