Teresa Mendizábal, the Director of the Energy, Environment, and Technology Investigation Centre, CIEMAT, told El País newspaper last Friday that radioactive trenches left behind by the United States after the 1966 radioactive accident in Palomares in Almería have been unearthed. The accident happened during mid-air refuelling above Almería and resulted in four nuclear bombs falling to earth on the outskirts of Palomares. At the time the Americans said that they had taken away all the radioactive material, consisting of about 1.6 tons of earth contaminated with plutonium. The process to completely decontaminate the area started in 2004, and a formal agreement on the clean-up needed was signed by both sides in September 2006. That was when CIEMAT started its investigation into what remained and uncovered two three-metre-deep trenches each containing 1000 square metres of radioactive material. Each trench is 10 metres wide and 30 metres long, and were found on the outskirts of the town, near the cemetery. The US government has now given a new undertaking to remove the contaminated earth and will spend 1.2 million euros on the clean-up.


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