White Sepulchres: Palomares Disaster Semicentennial Publication
Published on the Palomares disaster’s 50th anniversary, this new documentary photobook questions the legacy of the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. In 2016, Palomares commemorates 50 years as the most radioactive town in Europe. If you’ve heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island but are unfamiliar with Palomares, you might wonder why. All appear in Time’s top-ten list of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters.” Palomares moreover has been called the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. So why do so few people outside Spain know about it? As this photobook demonstrates, the cover-up and whitewash were figurative, also literal.
With over 100 color images shot over five years in Almería, White Sepulchres records the aftermath of four U.S. nuclear bombs dropped on 17 January 1966. Despite agricultural collapse and an exodus that cut the population in half, people have bounced back, ever resilient. Farmers still till the land, children go to school, while on the outskirts of town, a rural sex industry has emerged, including naturist hotels and residential communities, a nudist beach with gay cruising ground, and a small strip of eateries, drag venues, gay bars, and heterosexual swingers clubs. In the nuclear age, on the Palomares disaster semicentennial, marginalized peoples continue to adopt the most marginal lands.