Lawmaker: Collapse highlights safety concerns

Tunnel collapse renews safety concerns about nuclear site
Lawmaker: Collapse highlights safety concerns

12 May, 2017

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.

Construction crews in protective gear and ventilation systems, are filling the hole that appeared above a rail tunnel that was used to transport radioactive equipment at Hanford.

The site contains a lot of contaminated equipment, such as the rail cars, which have simply been left in the tunnels which could pose to be a hazard.

On Tuesday morning, about six Hanford employees on routine rounds noticed that an area of soil over one of the tunnels had sunk, Henderson said. It's estimated that almost two-thirds of the plutonium used by the USA government during Hanford's lifespan - and a staggering amount of related waste - was produced at this one site.

"We're going to approach this slowly, safely and methodically", Henderson said.

The collapse of a tunnel at the most contaminated nuclear waste site in the United States has raised safety concerns at such facilities described by some as ticking time bombs.

The hole was discovered Tuesday at the former nuclear weapons production complex, prompting the evacuation of some workers and thousands of others to shelter-in-place for a few hours.

The area contains about 56 million gallons (211.98 million liters) of radioactive waste, most of it in 177 underground tanks.

Workers north of the Wye Barricade, a security checkpoint at the site, were told not to report to work on Wednesday if they were not essential to safety or security.

Plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation stopped in 1980 and cleaning up radioactive materials has been the Energy Department's top priority for years.

More news: Jazz dispatch Clippers — Sunday's National Basketball Association playoffs

Heeter said there are eight rail cars inside tunnels at the site that were used to transport radioactive material. Non-essential workers who live north of the site's Wye Barricade entrance were asked to stay home Wednesday.

The federal agency was expected to take those actions without prodding, but the state made the move in its role as the regulator of a massive, ongoing cleanup of the site.

The tribe also said the tunnels should be cleaned of radioactive waste and radiation long before a deadline of 2042 set by a cleanup agreement between the federal and state governments.

So far, there has been no evidence of any airborne contamination caused by the collapse. That order will remain in effect until Wednesday evening for non-essential overnight worker too.

"This disaster was predicted and shows the federal Energy Department's utter recklessness in seeking decades of delay for Hanford cleanup", he said.

It has been sealed since the mid-1990s, according to the department of energy.

"No action is now required for residents of Benton and Franklin counties", the Energy Department said, referring to the almost 300,000 residents near the site about 200 miles southeast of Seattle.

"There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point", the Department of Energy says.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called the breach a "serious situation" in a statement earlier on Tuesday.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.

More news

  • US, Philippines begin annual military drills

    US, Philippines begin annual military drills

    Lawrence Nicholson, the exercise's directors, gave upbeat answers to reporters' questions about the drills. They will involve 2,600 American soldiers and 2,800 Filipino troops, according to both sides.
    Motorola reportedly working on a tablet with 'Productivity Mode'

    Motorola reportedly working on a tablet with 'Productivity Mode'

    The name of this device isn't known at this time, though, nor whether Motorola has even picked the final name for the product. Unfortunately, the source didn't provide any information on the device's other specifications like processor, storage or RAM.
    Sigar Reports 'Shockingly High' Death Rate Among Afghan Soldiers

    Sigar Reports 'Shockingly High' Death Rate Among Afghan Soldiers

    Additional troops and expanded authorities are needed to provide advisory support to Afghan forces, the report finds. Describing the US war in Afghanistan as an unwinnable "stalemate," US General John W.
  • Spurs overcome Leonard injury, Harden to beat Rockets in OT

    The aging Spurs are far more methodical, and thrive on the flawless execution of simple offensive and defensive principles. Averaging less than four points per contest on below 30 percent shooting for the playoffs wasn't going to get it done.

    Andy Cohen's warning for Ryan Seacrest: Don't underestimate Kelly Ripa

    Seacrest and his girlfriend was spotted by TMZ in NY on Sunday, and he was asked about a possible " American Idol " return. Still, Ripa, a huge Idol fan, insisted he reclaim his hosting duties if and when the show gets a second life.

    Israel blamed as blast sparks fires at Damascus airport

    According to Syria's state-run news agency Sana , the strikes caused only material damage and resulted in no human casualties. Damascus International Airport is reportedly a major conduit of Iranian arms bound for Hezbollah in Syria.
  • Hertz Shares Plunge on Wide Earnings Miss

    Hertz Shares Plunge on Wide Earnings Miss

    Finally, Russell Investments Group Ltd. increased its stake in Hertz Global Holdings by 40.4% in the first quarter. The business earned $2.01 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts' expectations of $2.04 billion.

    Crosby taking part in full practice with Penguins

    Still, it depends on how Crosby, 29, feels after those taking bumps and hits, which is why the team has termed him day-to-day. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is expected to provide an update on Crosby's status for Saturday's Game 5 after practice.
    Levee breaks in Arkansas as record flooding continues to plague the region

    Levee breaks in Arkansas as record flooding continues to plague the region

    A school bus trying to drive on a flooded road got stuck and almost tipped over near the town of Iowa, Louisiana. Governor Hutchinson said state officials are carefully monitoring the situation in Lawrence County.
  • USA service member killed in Somalia

    The militants were "associated with some attacks on facilities that we use and that our Somali partners use nearby", said Capt. It is believed to be the first US combat death in the African country since the 1993 " Black Hawk Down " incident.

    North Korea accuses US, South Korea of assassination attempt

    North Korea has accused the US and South Korea of attempting to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un with a "bio-chemical substance". Although the North Korean suspect was not named in the official televised broadcast, he was identified by his surname - Kim.
    Trump to meet Muslim leaders on first trip abroad

    Trump to meet Muslim leaders on first trip abroad

    White House officials said Mr Trump will aim to show his "America first" policy is compatible with the USA being a global leader. Mr Trump clashed with the Pontiff while campaigning to become the Republican nominee for the White House.