Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Accidents Happen?

"Accidents happen. That's what they say."
-- Grover

My two year-old daughter is in full potty training mode, and right now her favorite video is Sesame Street's "Elmo's Potty Time." Unfortunately this means that the soundtrack plays over and over in my head. One of the catchiest songs is "Accidents Happen" (quoted above). The conclusion of the song is that accidents happen, and that's ok.

The other world in which I reside, where I work every day for the abolition of nuclear weapons, is full of examples where accidents are not ok. One such example is the Palomares accident, which happened on this day in 1966.

On this day in the middle of the Cold War, a U.S. B-52 bomber carrying four nuclear weapons collided in mid-air with a KC-135 refueling tanker plane, causing both planes to crash. One of the B-52's nuclear weapons was recovered on the ground and another was found after a months-long search in the sea. The other two nuclear weapons have never been found.

While this accident did not result in a full-scale nuclear explosion, it contaminated a large area with an unknown amount of plutonium. To this day, local residents are fighting the U.S. government to clean up the area, monitor residents' health and compensate them for the accident. For more information on the local struggle, click here.

A long list of significant nuclear accidents is available on the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Nuclear Files website.

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