Emergency declared at Hanford plutonium plant

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In what has been described as a “crisis”, a tunnel full of highly contaminated materials has collapsed Tuesday morning at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.

The U.S. Department of Energy Richland Operations Office issued a statement saying they had activated the Hanford Emergency Operations Center at 8:26 a.m. after a tunnel in the plutonium uranium extraction plant collapsed.

No workers were in the tunnel when it collapsed, officials reported, and nearby workers have all been evacuated.   No injuries were reported.

Other workers farther away were told to remain indoors, “secure ventilation in your building” and “refrain from eating or drinking.”

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

UPDATE Tuesday evening:  Susannah Frame, investigative reporter for KING Television, announced on Twitter that the potential for danger is not over, and employees on the next shift were told not to come to work after the tunnel collapse Tuesday morning.

All workers at the plant were released to go home Tuesday afternoon, except essential personnel working on repairs.


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