Palomares meets health protection regulations according to the government

The area restricted area that contains the contaminated soil. Credit: Creative Commons

Palomares in Cuevas del Almanzora, where four thermonuclear bombs fell in 1966, meets health protection regulations against ionising radiation risks, according to the Spanish government’s response to a question from Sumar. The inquiry referred to a US report suggesting the need for US involvement to remove contaminated soil, as pollution in the area exceeded European standards.

The government stated that the EU doesn’t specify pollution levels for such situations. The closest levels are in a Council Directive which sets reference levels for population exposures from 1 to 20 mSv (millisieverts, measuring the radiation dose absorbed by the human body per year). These levels are incorporated into Spanish law ensuring compliance in Palomares’ contaminated areas.

Two verification missions

The European Commission conducted two verification missions in Palomares in 2010 and 2019, concluding no deviations in competencies of the Nuclear Safety Council.

The National Court has issued a warning to the Ministry for Ecological Transition (Miteco) in late March, threatening fines if it does not submit the file on Palomares’ clean-up. The court has requested for the second time the “urgent submission” of this file and has given a ten-day deadline for its delivery, with potential fines ranging from €300 to €1,200.

‘Ecologistas en Accion’ criticises the government for “misleading” statements regarding compliance with radiation limits in Palomares. According to the collective’s lawyer, Jose Ignacio Dominguez, the existing exposure for the population exceeds 20 mSv per year.

Dominguez argues that the government’s response, which he claims is misleading, demonstrates its ignorance of the reality of radiation in this area and its lack of intention to carry out soil rehabilitation plans.

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Written by

Julian Phillips

Born in the UK, has lived in 9 countries, before finally coming to Spain in 2015. Currently living in Almeria and working out of the EWN office in Mojacar.