MADRID (AP) — Spain on Monday begins steps to remove radioactive soil after four U.S. hydrogen bombs were dropped in mid-air collisions near a village in southern Spain nearly 60 years ago. announced that it has asked the United States to
None of the bombs detonated, but two plutonium-filled detonators detonated, scattering several kilograms (pounds) of highly radioactive plutonium-239 across the landscape around Palomares.
The foreign ministry said no further details about the petition would be released until an official response from the United States.
Spain and the United States signed a letter of intent in 2015, negotiating a binding agreement to further restore and clean up the Palomares site and dispose of the contaminated soil in a suitable location within the United States. .
On January 17, 1966, a U.S. B-52 bomber collided with a tanker plane, killing 7 of the 11 crew members. There were no deaths on the ground.
The accident occurred at the height of the Cold War, and it was U.S. policy to keep nuclear-armed fighter jets flying near the Soviet border at all times.
A 2015 statement said that immediately after the accident, both countries secured the area, removed the contaminated soil, and began decontaminating the land. They said they have been monitoring and analyzing contamination levels since then.
Spain’s state news agency EFE said about 50,000 cubic meters (176 million cubic feet) of land was affected across 44 parcels. Since then, the government has rented the land from its owners to protect it, but now wants it confiscated.
Spanish daily El Pais, which published an article on the petition on Monday, said the request had been submitted months ago and that so far the U.S. response has been positive.
Spain is looking for a quick deal as it faces general elections in December, the newspaper said.