A huge cloud of radioactive Saharan dust has been heading across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and the USA, satellite images have shown. Issues about former nuclear tests in the desert sands of Africa are off the French government’s current public radar.

But, satellite images, taken by the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), show a large plume of dust with very high values of dust concentrations traveling westwards across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico.

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The weather phenomenon is caused when particles of dust from arid regions in Africa, such as the Sahara, are blown over the Mediterranean and spread across Europe and beyond.

Aerosol forecasts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service observed another large plume of Saharan dust moving west across the Atlantic between 12-17 May 2022 and heading towards the Caribbean.

The ideal is to avoid prolonged exposure to Saharan dust, so the general recommendation is to stay indoors when these clouds are present, as France marks the 60th anniversary of its first nuclear test — near Algeria’s border with Mauritania, on February 13, 1960.

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The greatest care should be taken by people who have problems from the COPD group, as well as older adults, pregnant women, and children.

Decades after the first French nuclear test in Algeria, thousands of victims are still waiting for compensation from the government. Why is France dragging its feet over the issue?

Jean-Claude Hervieux still remembers joining a crowd of soldiers and high-level officials in Algeria’s Sahara desert to witness one of France’s first nuclear tests. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

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Instead of being contained underground, radioactive dust and rock escaped into the atmosphere. Everyone ran, including two French ministers. At military barracks, the group showered and had their radiation levels checked as a crude means of decontamination.

Critics have long claimed more than three decades of nuclear testing may have left many victims, first in Algeria and later in French Polynesia, where the bulk of testing took place.

It is part of the whole issue of decolonization, and of Algerians asking for French recognition of crimes committed as a colonial power. For France, he added, doing so might mean financial compensations in the millions of euros.

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A major nuclear policy speech last week by President Emmanuel Macron made no mention of them. France’s compensation commission says it has responded to claims that meet criteria set out by law.

Altogether, Paris exploded more than 200 nuclear devices. Most were in remote atolls of French Polynesia, but the first 17 took place in Algeria’s desert. In 1996, French President President Jacques Chirac called a halt to the testing.

DW.com / ABC Flash Point News 2022.

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