Friday was the 48th anniversary of the Palomares nuclear disaster. A US B52 collided with a refueling plane over southern Spain causing both planes to fall from the sky. The B52 had four hydrogen bombs on board. Three fell on the town of Palomares, one out to sea. Two of the nuclear bombs had the non nuclear explosive detonate on impact, sending plutonium showering over the town like dirty bombs.
Much of the deadly plutonium was buried or tilled under the soil but was left in the town. Residents still live in the area with areas of high contamination fenced off among the town. 6000 barrels of 66 gallon size were filled with contaminated soil an shipped to the Savannah River nuclear site for storage. Most of the contaminated soil and land still remains. In 2008 another buried location of highly contaminated soil was found as the US and Spain continued political wranglings over the cleanup. In 2010 the US stopped making payments to Spain for the clean up.
Two years later another accident involving nuclear warheads on a B52 caused the entire program to be reconsidered by the US. NATO planes have not been allowed to fly over Spain since the Palomares disaster.
Photo below: homes and a school beside plutonium contaminated land in Palomares
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