Collapse larger than thought at nuke waste site

10 May, 2017, 03:06 | Author: Celia Hoffman

A large portion of a storage tunnel that contains train carriages full of radioactive waste has collapsed in the U.S. state of Washington, according to local news sources.

The robot can detect radiation, volatile gases, and trace explosives and has been used in situations from the aftermath of 9/11 to the Boston Marathon bombing.

That prompted federal officials to activate an emergency operations center at the breached tunnel - next to the Hanford Site's Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as the PUREX facility.

He says there were no workers inside the tunnel when it collapsed Tuesday morning but that nearby workers were evacuated and others who were farther away were told to remain indoors. My office is in close communication with these agencies and directly with Department of Energy headquarters in DC. Two years later, the U.S. Department of Energy, the EPA, and Washington state agreed to work together to clean up the heavily contaminated complex.

A text message sent to all personnel and obtained by KING5 told workers to "secure ventilation in your building" and "refrain from eating or drinking". Workers at the site have now been evacuated.

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Ferguson said that since the early 1980s, hundreds of workers have been exposed to vapors escaping from the tanks and that those breathing the vapors developed nosebleeds, chest and lung pain, headaches, coughing, sore throats, irritated eyes and difficulty breathing.

"Access to the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site, which is located in the center of the Hanford Site, has been restricted to protect employees".

The budget for Hanford alone is about $2.3 billion in the current fiscal year, about $1.5 billion of that going to the management and treatment of approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste now stored in underground storage tanks.

The government since 1989 has been in the process of cleaning up the site, which state and federal authorities have dubbed the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere.

The tunnel that collapsed contained highly contaminated and radioactive materials including those that transported fuel rods, local station KING 5 reported. Hanford made the plutonium for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, and much of the plutonium for the nation's nuclear arsenal.

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