Mon, Feb 06, 2012 - Page 7 News List

US, Spain discuss radiation cleanup

AFP, Washington

The US is offering technical assistance to Spain to clean up land contaminated by radiation from undetonated nuclear bombs that accidentally fell on the area in 1966, the US Department of State announced on Saturday.

The Spanish and US governments have not yet reached an agreement on the cleanup.

At the request of the Spanish government, a US technical team led by the US Department of Energy traveled to the southeastern Spanish town of Palomares in February last year to offer advice for the remediation plan.

“No final decision has been reached regarding cleanup of the site,” the Department of State said in a statement on its Web site.

On Jan. 17, 1966, a US B-52 bomber carrying four nuclear bombs collided with a KC-135 tanker during mid-air refueling off the coast of Spain.

In addition to killing seven of the crew members on the airplanes, three hydrogen bombs fell to the ground near Palomares and one fell into the Mediterranean Sea.

The non-nuclear explosives on two of the bombs that hit the ground detonated, spreading 3.175kg of plutonium over a 200 hectare area. The bomb that fell into the sea was recovered intact after a search by the US Navy.

“In 1966, we worked closely with Spain to remediate the accident site and have collaborated with Spanish authorities for more than 40 years to monitor the site and the health of local inhabitants,” the Department of State statement said.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo spoke with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about the remediation last week during the Munich Security Conference in Germany, according to the Spanish newspaper the Herald of Aragon.

Clinton is “personally committed” to resolving the contamination issue, Garcia-Margallo told the Spanish news media.

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