The Hanford Nuclear Site is a former nuclear production facility operated by the U.S. government in Washington State. Most famously, this mostly decommissioned plant is known for producing the plutonium that was used in the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan.
The facility is being slowly and painstakingly decommissioned over the last few decades and there is still a lot of contamination, and a lot of work to be done. The project has been criticized for a cleanup that’s been extensively delayed and pushed far over budget.
Well, yesterday Hanover faced a setback when, according to CBS News, an emergency was declared after a portion of a tunnel that contains rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed. The incident reportedly took place within one of two rail tunnels under the PUREX plant, which is part of the former weapons production complex.
No workers were inside the tunnel when it collapsed. The cave-in is being described as impacting a 20 foot section of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long that is used to store contaminated materials. Officials are saying there is “no indication of a release of contamination at this point” but it appears emergency crews were testing the area, including through the use of robot air sampling methods.
According to the Washington Post, the Hanford budget in the current fiscal year is $2.3 billion, with about $1.5 billion of that going to the management and treatment of approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste sitting in underground storage tanks.
I’m Anna Wells and this is IEN Now.