Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Friday that the U.S. government pledged quick action to remove radioactive soil from a town in southern Spain where three hydrogen bombs landed after a mid-air collision in 1966.
Garcia-Margallo commented after he and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy met in Madrid with a delegation of U.S. senators and Washington’s envoy to Spain, Alan Solomont.
The problem dates from Jan. 17, 1966, when a U.S. B-52 bomber collided in mid-air with a refueling tanker, causing four hydrogen bombs to fall in and around the southern Spanish town of Palomares, including one that landed in the Mediterranean Sea.
No warheads detonated, but plutonium was released into the atmosphere and the soil.
U.S. experts visited Palomares a year ago to consult with Spanish counterparts on a strategy to decontaminate the affected area.
Some 6,000 cu. meters (211,471 cu. feet) of radioactive subsoil remains in Palomares, scattered across an area of 41 hectares (101 acres), according to a study by Spain’s Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research.
The talks with U.S. senators in Madrid came a day before Garcia-Margallo is to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.