Okay I admit it…I was a huge James Bond fan in my youth…I read all the Ian Fleming books and saw all the movies started with the first one “Dr. No” in 1962 I believe……and was disappointed when Sean Connery left the franchise…..but I digress….I remember the most visually stunning Bond movie at the time “Thunderball”……the trailer may help jog the memory….
On January 17, 1966, a B-52 bomber of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) carrying four hydrogen bombs collided with a tanker during mid-air refueling at 31,000 feet over the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain. The tanker was completely destroyed when its fuel load ignited, killing all four crew members. The B-52 broke apart, killing three of the seven crew members aboard.
Three hydrogen bombs were found on land near the small fishing village of Palomares. However, the non-nuclear explosives in two of the weapons detonated upon impact with the ground, resulting in the contamination of 490 acres. The fourth fell into the sea and was eventually recovered intact after a 2½-month-long search.
News stories related to the crash began to appear the following day, and it achieved front page status in both the New York Times and Washington Post on 20 January. Reporters sent to the accident scene covered angry demonstrations by the local residents. The incident had an eerie similarity with the recently released James Bond movie Thunderball, in which SPECTRE steals two NATO H-bombs, which end up submerged on the ocean floor of the Bahamas.
On 4 February, an underground Communist organization successfully initiated a protest by 600 people in front of the U.S. Embassy in Spain. Soil with high radiation contamination levels was placed in drums and shipped to the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina for burial. A total of 5.4 acres was decontaminated, producing 6,000 barrels.
In 2006, Reuters reported that higher than normal levels of radiation were detected in the region. In 2009, the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos told Secretary Hillary Clinton that he feared Spanish public opinion might turn against the U.S. once the results of the study on nuclear contamination were to be revealed. Earl Wilson was Director for the U.S. Information Service (USIS) in Madrid and was interviewed in 1988.