Emergency declared in Hanford: partial tunnel cave-in

The U.S. Department of Energy in Richland declared an emergency at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington on Tuesday morning after a portion of a storage tunnel that contained rail cars used to store nuclear waste collapsed.

The U.S. Department of Energy in Richland declared an emergency at the Hanford nuclear site this morning. Officials reported that a 20-feet portion of tunnel, which contained rail cars and used to store nuclear waste, collapsed. The tunnel is located next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX, which is in the center of the Hanford Site in an area known as the 200 East Area.

Hanford has reported no indication of a release of contamination at this point, and crews are surveying the area for contamination. All personnel near the PUREX facility have been accounted for and there have been no reports of injuries.

Workers around the facility, as well as the Hanford Site north of the Wye Barricade, sought shelter after the alert went out. Access to the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site has been restricted to protected employees.

The most recent report from the Hanford Emergency Information center is that the non-essential employees near this morning’s emergency event were released from work early. Workers on swing shift at the Hanford Site who are not needed for essential site operations this evening were told not to come into work tonight, as officials determine how to address the partial cave-in. Workers considered essential for site operations are being told to report to work while avoiding the area of the emergency.

No action is currently required for residents of Benton and Franklin Counties.

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