Tunnel Collapses At America’s Most Contaminated Nuclear Site, Emergency Declared

Hanford site

Hanford, Washington saw a tunnel collapse that was packed with train cars containing radioactive waste this Tuesday morning. All the workers on the site were rushed into cover while the residents were warned to stay indoors for fears of nuclear radiation leakage. Hanford, located 200 miles north of Seattle, is one of the most contaminated nuclear sites in the US, so dealing with nuclear radiation is an occupational hazard for the workers and the local residents.


Despite this, the tunnel collapse at the former nuclear weapons production site is anything but normal as the area went into an immediate lockdown at around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Soon after a routine inspection of the area revealed that the collapsed soil over a 20-foot-long section of the tunnel that stored contaminated railcars. These railcars used to carry the extraneous fuel to a processing facility, and the collapse occurred in the center of the site which is being called a very “high hazard operation.”

The Energy Department says that the collapse can lead to radioactive materials leakage into nearby soil or water.

“There are concerns about subsidence in the soil covering railroad tunnels near a former chemical processing facility. The tunnels contain contaminated materials.”

Sources speculate that the collapse could have resulted from the vibrations due to construction being done at the site. The site has been under operation clean up for nearly 30 years and was originally used to produce plutonium for defense and commercial reactors, with operations ending back in 1980.

Luckily no one was hurt, and the operations are now heading towards the recovery phase,

“The incident is moving from the emergency phase towards the recovery phase. The workforce has safely left the site, other than personnel essential to the recovery plan,” the DOE said in a statement late Tuesday. “After extensive testing the site remains confident at this point that there has been no indication of worker exposure or an airborne radiological release.”

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