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Between 1966 and 1996, France conducted 193 atmospheric and underground nuclear weapons tests in Polynesia in the Southern Pacific Ocean, affecting the environment and the health of local communities and of French veterans involved in the testing program. The talk, based on the recently published book Toxique and the related website Moruroa Files, presents the results of a two-year long study involving extensive computer simulations of nuclear test fallouts, dozens of interviews in France and Polynesia, and the analysis of 2000 pages of declassified French government documents that reevaluated the consequences of French nuclear testing in the Pacific and revealed systemic barriers preventing local communities and veterans to seek justice and compensation. It ends with a discussion of the policy impact of this study.
Sébastien Philippe is a scientist and Associate Research Scholar of Public and International Affairs with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. His research centers on nuclear weapons and emerging technologies issues, including the monitoring and verification of arms control agreements, the reconstruction of past nuclear weapon activities, and the impact of new technologies on international peace and security. He was the lead scientist behind the award-winning project, the Moruroa files, on the legacy of French nuclear testing in the Pacific and co-authored Toxique (2021) a book finalist for the 2021 Albert Londres Prize (the French equivalent of the Pulitzer). He holds a PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton, was a Stanton postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center, and has served as a nuclear weapon system safety engineer in France.
The David Bradford Energy and Environmental Policy Seminar Series is coordinated by the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE), and co-sponsored by the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI). This seminar is also co-sponsored by the Program on Science and Global Security.