Cave-in at WA nuclear waste site sparks evacuation

An emergency has been declared after a tunnel collapsed on irradiated rail cars at the most contaminated nuclear waste site in America

Cave-in at WA nuclear waste site sparks evacuation

Catastrophe & Flood

By Ryan Smith

An emergency has been declared at a nuclear-contaminated site in Washington state after a portion of a tunnel caved in on rail cars contaminated with nuclear waste, according to an NPR report.

The Hansford Site, a former nuclear production complex, is about 150 miles southeast of Seattle. Regarded as the most contaminated nuclear site in America, it’s the home of a long-running cleanup operation, according to NPR. The site contains millions of tons and hundreds of billions of gallons of nuclear waste, making it the government’s most challenging nuclear cleanup project, according to the Department of Energy.

Earlier today, a 20-foot-by-20-foot section of soil caved in where two underground tunnels meet next to the site’s Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also called the PUREX plant. The tunnels were storing rail cars that once carried nuclear fuel from reactors to production facilities when the site was used to manufacture nuclear weapons, according to NPR.

Some employees were evacuated, while others were told to move indoors as a “precaution.” The Northwest News Network, an area public radio station, reported that about 3,000 workers were taking cover indoors at one point.

“All personnel in the immediate area have been accounted for – they are safe – and there is no evidence of a radiological release,” Destry Henderson, spokesperson for the Hansford Site’s emergency operation center, said in a Facebook post.

The Department of Energy has also said that there was no indication of contamination from the collapse.

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