Published: Wed, May 10, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Tunnel collapses at Hanford Nuclear site; officials say no radiation release

Tunnel collapses at Hanford Nuclear site; officials say no radiation release

The site - about half the size of Rhode Island, in an area centered roughly 75 miles east of Yakima - continued to buzz during the Cold War, with more plutonium production, as well as the construction of several nuclear reactors. Extremely sensitive radiation detectors all over the Hanford Site would have noticed even in a minuscule increase in radiation immediately, the worker explained.

About 3,000 employees were told to remain indoors.

Reports are not now indicating any release of radioactivity.

An emergency was declaration at the nuclear waste site in southeastern Washington state which for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons. Ten years ago, some press reports stated, the plant contained two-thirds of the high-level radioactive waste in the United States. More specifically, the tunnel that collapsed was one filled with highly radioactive train cars that once carried spent fuel rods containing deeply risky plutonium and uranium from a reactor on the Columbia River to the processing facility.

The U.S. Department of Energy, Richland, West Richland, and other local fire and police officials as well as Washington state patrol and OR and Washington state officials all responded to the scene, according to KING5.

"Responders are getting closer to the area where the soil has subsided for further visual inspection". That tunnel containing the rail cars may be the focus of the current emergency.

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"We don't know exactly how the soil caved in, it's too early", Heeter said. "Workers in the vicinity are still being sheltered as a precaution". An accident like this is certainly a bad look for the Department of Energy site, where a giant sign reads "Welcome to Hanford: Where Safety Comes First".

Officials are responding to reports of a cave-in of a 20 foot section of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long that is used to store contaminated materials. Both tunnels are covered with approximately eight feet of soil.

A source told King 5 that the vibration created by nearby roadwork crews could have caused the incident.

The stuff inside the tunnel is nasty, they said, but for now, the nuclear genie remains in its bottle.

"The unfolding crisis at Hanford ..."

One of the double-shell tank farms containing six underground tanks is seen on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington, Jun. 30, 2005.

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