50th anniversary of the Palomares incident

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On January 17th it will be 50 years of the incident at Palomares. Ecologistas en Acción has planned several ceremonies to remember the incident and to show its solidarity with the affected population. Upon the recent announcement of the agreement between USA and Spain, this organization claims full transparency in executing the agreement and its terms. It also informs that the cleaning of the lands will be closely watched, as well as the cleaning transfer to USA, which will have to be done with the highest warranties.

On January 17th 2016 it’ll be 50 years of the nuclear incident at Palomares, which entailed the biggest Plutonium-contaminated leakage until the incident at Chernobyl in 1986. Out of the 4 thermonuclear bombs, 1 megaton each, two opened up, releasing their plutonium content, and thus contaminating the area. At that moment, the USA Army was too preoccupied with recapturing the bombs so that they wouldn’t fall into strange hands to worry about the population itself. And Spanish authorities abandoned their responsibilities. In fact, population wasn’t even evacuated during decontamination work.

50 years from the incident, the territory is still polluted, after one dictatorship and several democratic Presidents. Spanish authorities have flattered a lot by not putting enough pressure on the USA. During this time, environmentalist pressure has been the key to move forward into a definite solution of the problem, which now seems more likely and closer than ever. The agreement signed between Spain and USA on October 2015 paves the way for resolving the conflict. The agreement is a plain 4-page text which opens up the door to detailed decontamination and cleaning plans for the future, and stipulates that the USA shall be in charge of the lands in a nuclear cemetery in Nevada.

Ecologistas en Acción cannot be the exception here in celebrating this announcement, but it claims that the details of the agreement must be made public, and that the local community has to be compensated for the damages caused by the limitation of development in the area and the threat to their health. Similarly, the organization requests that the lands are evacuated by the closest ports, the one from Carboneras or that from Garrucha, and that new infrastructures are not built in the area. It is also imperative to conduct an inspection to know if contamination has escaped from the delimited areas.

Lastly, from Ecologistas en Acción compensations are being requested for the populations affected by the districts of Palomares and Villaricos mainly. These communities have been subject to periodic revisions, with the stress and the uncertainty they imply. They have also been forced to see how their land becomes sadly famous for the contamination, and how their products are stigmatized. Likewise, they request compensations, as well as environment-friendly development plans.

Ecologistas en Acción commits to watching the cleaning process so that the best possible result is achieved, and to work at indemnifying the population and that Palomares recovers the time lost.

On January 16th and 17th 2016, Ecologistas en Acción shall celebrate some ceremonies in Almeria and Cuevas del Almanzora to remember the 50th anniversary of the incident at Palomares, and to show their solidarity with the affected population. You may refer to the schedule of the celebrations in http://www.ecologistasenaccion.org/article31446.html

Also, Ecologistas en Acción will send a letter to the USA ambassador and consulates in Spain, requesting that the cleaning work is financed, as well as the sustainable development plans for the area of Palomares.