Nuclear Reservation tunnel collapses and calls for state of emergency in Washington State

An emergency has been declared in central Hanford in Eastern Washington state Tuesday after the roof of a tunnel used to store highly radioactively contaminated waste collapsed.

Several thousand workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation were told to take shelter in buildings.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which is half the size of the state of Rhode Island, is in a state of emergency after a portion of a tunnel in its plutonium uranium extraction plant collapsed, according to a report by the Associated Press. The emergency has left hundreds of workers in a “take cover” position, with a manager instructing all personnel to “secure ventilation in your building” and “refrain from eating or drinking.”

Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the state of Washington’s Department of Ecology, has publicly said there has been no apparent release of radiation and no workers are known to have been injured.

Six underground tanks that hold a brew of radioactive and toxic waste at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site were leaking in 2011

An aerial survey mid-morning Tuesday showed an opening about 20 feet by 20 feet into one of two tunnels, which had been covered with about eight feet of soil.

The breach at the defunct Purex processing plant tunnel could expose the highly radioactive material in the tunnel to the atmosphere.

 No airborne radiation had been detected as of about noon. Radiological surveys were continuing.
Here is a video of the press conference released.
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