A 55-year-old problem

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A 55-year-old problem
NO-GO AREA: 40 hectares of Palomares still contaminated with plutonium Photo credit: Schumi4ever

SPAIN’S Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) is not obliged to clear 50,000 cubic metres of radioactive soil from Palomares.

The National High Court in Madrid rejected by three votes to two an appeal from the Ecologistas en Accion environmentalists, requesting that the CSN cleaned 40 hectares of Palomares land.

This was contaminated during the notorious 1966 nuclear incident when four hydrogen bombs were released during a mid-air collision between a US B-52 bomber and a refuelling aircraft.

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Two of the bombs scattered several kilos of plutonium in the Cuevas de Almanzora district of Palomares.  The US forces later removed 4,810 drums, each filled with 208 litres of soil, but left behind 50,000 cubic metres of contaminated earth.

Spain has attempted to persuade the US to at least remove the worst-contaminated soil for years and in 2015 appeared to make progress with a Declaration of Intent from the Barack Obama administration.

This stalled when Donald Trump reached the White House although Spain continues to maintain that a definitive solution lies with the US which has facilities for storing radioactive waste.


Meanwhile, Ecologistas announced that they will lodge an appeal against the High Court ruling with the Supreme Court and intend to take legal action against the State Administration.

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Linda came to Spain to live when she was 24, just over 52 years ago, and her husband is Spanish. She began writing for English-language local newspapers in the mid-1970s and hasn’t stopped since! She leads a Spanish life, which she believes is vital when conveying the news to English-speaking residents, and along the way she produced two editions of Expand Your Spanish, helping English-speakers to enlarge their knowledge of the language. She was excited to be in at the birth of the Euro Weekly News in 1999 and is still passionately writing for the paper 22 years later.

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