Palomares

PALOMARES BROKEN ARROW: 50 YEARS AFTER A NUCLEAR DISASTER

50 YEARS AFTER THE NUCLEAR DISASTER

The 17th of january of 1966 a B-52 with four nuclear bombs made refueling maneuvers on Spanish soil, colliding with the tanker aircraft was an explosion and the aircrafts were disintegrated, three bombs fell on the ground and one in the sea, fuel and fuselage also scattered around the area.

Fifty years after the Palomares incident are still many doubts about the official version; classified documents, secrecy and silence make it very difficult to know what steps were taken and the impact in the zone and population. Until today the Spanish Center for Energy Environment and Technology (CIEMAT) performs periodic analyzes to 150 inhabitants of the village of Palomares (Indalo Project).

The four thermonuclear bombs carried in the B-52 containing plutonium, uranium and americium, multistage bombs of 1.1 megatons each (55 times higher destructive power than Hiroshima’s one). Nuclear fuel has spread for more than 266 hectares, the radioactive compounds are alpha category so the particles do not penetrate the skin but those are harmful if inhaled or swallowed aerosols (attached to land and airborne dust) . For someones the greatest nuclear catastrophe in a populated area of the whole story, for the more cautious, the most important until Chernobyl (1986) and the most important in history with nuclear weapons. One of the most obscure and unknowns events of the Spanish dictatorship during the Cold War.

A radiological three-dimensional map of the zone with total restriction of use of 41 hectares was made in 2008. The efforts of some people allow us today to move towards more knowledge of what happened and what they left us there.

Epidemiological report of Doctor Pedro Antonio Martinez Pinilla that for decades conducted studies on the population of Palomares, demonstrate the existence of contamination; in the first study in the years after the accident he hasn’t found increase of deaths by tumor development. But in the second study, 20 years later, he found an increase of tumor development in the town, setting a latency period of polluting waste. A thorough study that provides some answers and some more questions.

The censored Franco’s newscast and the international press just echoed this catastrophe showing images of Spanish Minister and US ambassador carefree attitude, bathing away from areas truly affected. The American Army occupied the area for a few months setting Camp Wilson and proceeding to the work of cleaning, but they didn’t finalize it. Since 2010, it is underway Palomares Rehabilitation Planning for the removal of the remaining land with contamination and transfer to the US for disposal. In 2016 nothing has been done, the ball is on the roof of the highest authorities of the National Security of United States of America, the residues still here.

About the author:
Adrián Domínguez (Spain, 1976) is a documentary photographer. In 2010 he presented Madrid Popular, an anthology of anonymous passers collected in the eponymous book. His pictures has been exhibited in countries like Japan and USA.

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