US in final stages of decision over Palomares

THE US government has reportedly shown their intention to remove soil and other radioactive waste in order to rehabilitate the Palomares area.


According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the United States has promised “good news” is to be expected “soon” regarding the matter.

The Palomares B-52 crash occurred on January 17, 1966, when a B-52G bomber of the USAF Strategic Air Command collided with a KC-135 tanker during mid-air refuelling at 9,450m over the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain.

Of the four hydrogen bombs the B-52G was carrying, three were found on land near Palomares. The explosives in two of the weapons detonated upon impact, contaminating 2-square-kilometers with radioactive plutonium.

The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has shown her personal commitment to solving the matter during a recent Safety Conference. During that meeting, she acknowledged the Spanish people’s sensitivity towards the subject and affirmed Barack Obama’s administration is taking the matter very seriously. With this in mind, she pointed out that the United States Energy Department is working with Spanish experts from the CIEMAT (The Energetic, Environmental and Technological Research Centre) to find a cooperative solution for the problem.  

The US claims it has “been collaborating” by doing check-ups on local residents and environmental contamination. But this wasn’t until 2004 when Spain resolved that land in the area which had been expropriated to prevent it being used for other purposes, must be checked. In 2007, an agreement was reach with the US to map existing contamination. This cost €13.8 million, of which €12 million was paid by Spain, and resulted in a three-dimensional map being sent to the US Energy Department in 2008.

The report suggested that steps must be taken to repair the damage in the area which was approved in 2010. However it was revised by the US last year, and an agreement is yet to be reached.

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