US News Emergency Declared After Hanford Nuclear Waste Site Tunnel Collapses in Washington

21:16  09 may  2017
21:16  09 may  2017 Source:   Newsweek

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The Department of Energy declared an emergency Tuesday at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state following the collapse of a rail tunnel there. Tags Washington Hanford nuclear site nuclear waste . FCC site crashes after John Oliver

The US Department of Energy has declared an emergency at the Hanford , Washington nuclear waste storage site , after a tunnel used to store contaminated materials caved in. A tunnel near the plutonium-uranium extraction plant (PUREX) collapsed early Tuesday morning local time

Related video: Hanford Nuclear Reservation tunnel collapse triggers alert (Fox News)

The nation’s largest nuclear waste facility, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, was on high alert Tuesday morning after a tunnel containing radioactive materials collapsed.

Some workers were told to shelter in place, while others appear to have been evacuated. It was not immediately known whether any radioactive isotopes were released into the atmosphere.

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An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation after a portion of a tunnel that contained rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed .

(AP) - An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington state after a portion of a tunnel that that contains rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed .

About 8,000 people work on the site and about 250,000 people live in surrounding communities.

  Emergency Declared After Hanford Nuclear Waste Site Tunnel Collapses in Washington © AP

The collapse, according to initial reports, took place at what is known as the 200 Area, or the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, or PUREX.

According to Hanford's own website, "more plutonium was processed at PUREX than any other building on the planet, as it processed more than 70,000 tons of uranium fuel rods during its operations."

Located in the high desert of eastern Washington, Hanford was home to a significant part of the Manhattan Project, the effort to build an atomic bomb during World War II. “Fat Man,” the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, was “born” in its B Reactor, which has become a destination for tourists. Eight other reactors were eventually built, studding the dramatic landscape like the artifacts of some hubristic, doomed civilization.

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– An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington state after a portion of a tunnel that that contains rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed . The sprawling Hanford site is about half the size of Rhode Island.

(AP) — An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington state after a portion of a tunnel that that contains rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed . The sprawling Hanford site is about half the size of Rhode Island.

Hanford closed for the most part in 1989. Since then, the 586 square mile expanse of land has become a vexing problem for both Washington state and the federal Department of Energy, which oversees all nuclear sites. What to do with its 56 million gallons of nuclear waste, stored in 177 underground cisterns, presents what has been called one of the most complex--and expensive--engineering challenges in the world.

  Emergency Declared After Hanford Nuclear Waste Site Tunnel Collapses in Washington © AP

When I visited Hanford for a Newsweek cover story four years ago, the place was in disarray. The plan to vitrify the nuclear waste (i.e., turn it into glass) was as slow as it was expensive (projected at $25 billion then, much higher today), with cost overruns of billions of dollars. Some of the nuclear waste was leaking from tanks, some of it toward the nearby Columbia River, a major waterway for the Pacific Northwest.

Whistleblowers were suing because, they charged, corporate contractors were ignoring safety concerns and engineering errors. Citizens of the surrounding Tri-Cities area wondered if they were living in the shadow of what our coverline posited could be “America’s Fukushima.”

Tuesday's incidents will likely only increase such fears.

It’s too early to say how serious, or extensive, was the accident that unfolded Tuesday. Susannah Frame, a Seattle-based investigative reporter, was sending on-the ground updates that suggested a vigorous emergency response was being mounted. Her reporting indicated the tunnel collapse may have been caused by the seismic activity of a road crew working nearby.

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Source: http://uk.pressfrom.com/news/world/us-news/-153882-emergency-declared-after-hanford-nuclear-waste-site-tunnel-collapses-in-washington/

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