The Hanford nuclear site in Washington state – one of the largest and most contaminated storehouses of radioactive waste in the US – is currently undergoing an emergency. Hanford, which is overseen by the US Department of Energy (DOE), is a Cold War-era facility that led US production of plutonium for use in tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. The site no longer produces plutonium; however, millions of gallons’ worth of radioactive waste is still stored there, and workers are carrying out a lengthy process of decommissioning the 586-square-mile (151,773 hectare) reservation – what the Associated Press dubbed “the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site” in 2007. The entire site was put under a precautionary “take cover” order on May 9, due to a cave-in of a tunnel containing radioactive materials. Hanford later permitted most employees to leave, but those under lock-down near the tunnel have not yet been allowed to go home, according to a tweet by Susannah Frame, a reporter with KING television in Seattle.
Science Alert 10th May 2017 read more »
The collapse of a section of tunnel in which contaminated materials are stored led to an emergency being declared yesterday at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hanford Site in Washington State. No contamination has been detected following the cave-in.
World Nuclear News 10th May 2017 read more »
A tunnel at the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State collapsed today on top of railcars stored there that contain “mixed” radioactive waste, an accident that local watchdog group, Hanford Challenge, describes as a “crisis.” The tunnel is located next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX, and contains substances classified as “dangerous waste.” The collapse prompted an initial evacuation of workers in the area that then spread to a “take cover” order for the entire site. The already embattled Hanford site was originally part of the Manhattan Project, and a major supplier of military plutonium. It houses 177 storage tanks containing liquid radioactive sludges, some of which have been leaking radioactive effluent that could eventually threaten the Columbia River. Cleanup at the site did not begin until 1989. The Hanford tunnel collapse may have been caused by soil subsidence due to vibrations from nearby road works. “The current unfolding crisis at Hanford, the bursting barrel at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico in 2014, and the exploding radioactive waste dump in Beatty, Nevada in 2015, show that radioactive waste management is out of control,” said Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear.
Beyond Nuclear 9th May 2017 read more »