The USA has agreed to take radioactive Palomares topsoil out of the province and transport it back to Nevada, to a storage facility just outside of Las Vegas.
The US Energy Department sent the Spanish Nuclear Commission a clean-up plan back in July, which the Spanish are prepared to accept to finally put an end to the problem.
Fifty thousand cubic metres of contaminated topsoil will be taken to a military installation in the Nevada Desert north of Las Vegas.
The contamination occurred in January 1966 when a B- 52G bomber and a tanker collided during mid-air refuelling over the Mediterranean.
Three of the B-52’s four hydrogen bombs fell over Palomares and non-nuclear explosives in two bombs detonated on impact. The fourth bomb was recovered at sea, 10 weeks later.
Soil, water, air and crops were monitored and no-one has ever fallen ill as a result although Spain’s Investigation, Environment and Technology Investigation Centre (Ciemat) has detected both plutonium and americium still in the ground.
For years the Spanish Government has unsuccessfully asked the US to remove the contaminated topsoil. There are signs of a change of heart, Spanish sources close to the negotiations claimed: “Things are moving and the feeling is good.”