French MPs Urge Macron To Reveal Maps Of Nuclear Waste In Algerian Sahara
Nine French MPs have called on President Emmanuel Macron to “publish the data and maps of the areas” of waste resulting from the nuclear test campaigns conducted by France in the Algerian Sahara in the 1960s.
Addressing President Macron, the MPs stressed: “You now have the opportunity to take concrete action in favor of the civilian populations and the environment that continue to be affected by nuclear waste buried by France in the sands of the Algerian Sahara; you must seize it.
“The bilateral meeting has been postponed “sine die”!
The fifth session of the Algerian-French high-level intergovernmental committee, which was to take place on 11 April, was intended to take place, as you expressed it, Mr. President, in a context of appeasement of the historical disputes between France and Algeria,” they noted.
“To this end, you have taken, they recalled, various initiatives, including the last one on 9 March, asking to facilitate access to classified archives relating to the Algerian war to “promote respect for historical truth”.
Furthermore, the nine deputies recalled that last February “the sky over a large part of France had an orange hue… The sand of the [Algerian] Sahara, carried by the winds…”.
“This meteorological episode has once again reminded us that France has left an indelible radioactive imprint in the heart of the Sahara”, they noted, recalling that “Seventeen (17) nuclear explosions between 1960 and 1966, both atmospheric and underground, were carried out in the areas of Reggane and In-Ekker to test the French atomic bomb”.
“In 2021, there is a lot of knowledge about these tests, the accidents (Beryl, Amethyst, Ruby, Jade) and their consequences,” they said.
According to them, “key information is still missing, concerning the waste (nuclear or not) for the most part buried voluntarily in the sands, to ensure the health safety of the populations residing in these areas, to protect future generations and to take the necessary and appropriate measures for the restoration of the environment”.
In 1997, the deputy Christian Bataille, member of the French Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices, acknowledged that “on the question of waste that may have resulted from the test campaigns carried out in the Sahara, there is no precise data”.
“Our written and oral questions to the Minister of the Army and the Minister of Ecological Transition have been answered in a way that shows the same desire to maintain a certain opacity on this subject”, they deplored, adding that “a similar attitude is to be deplored concerning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose North Africa and Middle East Directorate is not, for the time being, following up on requests for interviews made by civil society”.
“We refuse, they insisted, to imagine that France’s nuclear past continues to spawn health, humanitarian and environmental risks. We refuse to believe, to paraphrase Benjamin Stora, that this ‘burning question’, which is included in the report he [Macron] has submitted to you, is being stifled by political inaction or psychological logjams.
“After sixty long years of silence and opacity, isn’t it time to publish the data and maps of the areas where this waste was buried?” the MPs asked.
“History is what it is, the Sahara test sites have been dismantled, but the impact of radioactivity is still present, just like in Polynesia,” they argued.