Emergency declared at Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington

PUBLISHED Tue, May 09, 2017 - 12:29pm EDT
The 200 Area at Hanford, known as the Central Plateau (Credit: Hanford Site)

An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Site in Washington state after a tunnel was damaged, officials say. Some workers have been evacuated while others are being told to shelter in place. (more)

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The incident happened on early Tuesday morning when crews were working on a road near a plutonium processing complex at the 200 East Area, which caused a tunnel in which highly contaminated items are being stored to partially collapse.

"There are concerns about subsidence in the soil covering railroad tunnels near a former chemical processing facility. The tunnels contain contaminated materials," the site said in an alert. "No action is currently required for residents of Benton and Franklin Counties."

Workers at the 200 East Area have been evacuated while other workers at Hanford have been told to shelter in place as a precaution. There was no immediate indication that radiation has been released, a spokesperson said.

"All personnel secure ventilation in your building and refrain from eating or drinking," an alert sent to workers said. Access to the 200 East Area, where the incident is taking place, has been restricted to protect employees.

The U.S. Department of Energy has activated the Hanford Emergency Operations Center and the Washington Emergency Management Division has activated the state's Emergency Operations Center as a precaution.

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