New Palomares books slam 1966 US clean-up

Publication to coincide with 50th anniversary of nuke accident

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Two books on the disaster are being launched this week to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the accident. Pictured is José Herrera, the author of one of them

By Richard Torné

The Palomares nuclear accident is the subject of two controversial new books which are being published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

The authors, Jose Herrera and Rafael Moreno, focus on the aftermath of the disaster when two US air force jets – one a B-52 bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs – collided in mid-air over the south east of Spain on January 17 1966.

Seven US crew died in the crash, but it was the accidental release of radioactive plutonium after two of the bombs ruptured on hitting the ground that set in motion a chain of events which remain unresolved to this day, mostly related to the partial clean-up by the US military at the time which failed to remove all the contaminated soil.

Herrera’s damning account, titled ‘Accidente Nuclear de Palomares – Consecuencias (1966-2016)’ (Consequences of the Palomares nuclear accident), accuses the US authorities of botching up the clean-up operation and effectively treating the local population as guinea pigs.

Speaking to CA News, he said: “The clean up was done very badly. It took the US military a week to begin cleaning up the area, but during that time there were 96kph winds sweeping Palomares. That lapse may have had an impact on human health.”

Read more in this week’s print edition or go to e-paper

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