THE Director General of the Centre for Energetic, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT), Cayetano Lopez, said that the final solution for the Palomares problem is for the US to remove the plutonium.
Last month, Spain and the US finalised a deal regarding the clean-up of soil almost 50 years after a US air force B-52 bomber carrying nuclear weapons crashed in the area in 1966. The radioactive spillage resulting from the crash came from four nuclear bombs on the aircraft. The soil is expected to be taken out of Spain and shipped to a prepared site in Nevada in which nuclear bomb tests were held in the 1950s.
The nations announced the agreement during US Secretary of State John Kerry’s official visit to Spain.
The Palomares crash was the most serious incident of the time and resulted in the deaths of seven of the 11 crew members. The hydrogen bombs on board were more powerful than those which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the 1990s new tests showed high levels of a type of plutonium and an estimated 50,000 cubic metres of earth were found to be still contaminated.
The Spanish Government moved to appropriate the land in 2003 to ensure it wouldn’t be used.
Lopez said the most important contribution of CIEMAT was to realise that they could not decontaminate the area alone.