Cave in at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, emergency declared

10 May 2017 | By Vaneet Randhawa

A 20-foot long tunnel at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington collapsed causing hundreds of workers there to "take cover".

An emergency operations protocol was declared by the Energy Department after the cave in.

The Energy Secretary Rick Perry said "everyone has been accounted for and there is no initial indication of any worker exposure or an airborne radiological release."

In context: America's most toxic place- Hanford Nuclear Reservation

IntroductionThe Hamford Nuclear Reservation: The sleeping volcano

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation was built during World War II and manufactured plutonium for the US nuclear arsenal, including the bomb that shook Nagasaki, Japan.

The site has 2 tunnels that lead to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, commonly called PUREX.

The tunnels were used to bury radioactive waste, driven here through rail cars.

1989The US Energy Department starts Hanford cleanup

Plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation stopped in 1980 and cleaning up radioactive materials has been the Energy Department's top priority for years.

The site contains a lot of contaminated equipment, such as the rail cars, which have simply been left in the tunnels which could pose to be a hazard.

The cleanup program here began in 1989.

Love World news?
Stay updated with the latest happenings.

50 years and $110 billion to clean Hanford

The task of Hanford cleanup has been contracted to Washington River Protection Solutions which is estimated to take $110 billion to clean up almost "56 million gallons of chemical and nuclear waste, stored in 177 underground tanks" and could take 50 years.

29 Nov 2016Is Hanford another Chernobyl in the tow?

The risks at Hanford are manifold: tanks are leaking, workers getting sick.

The tanks emit radioactive chemicals that cause cancer, brain and lung damage which have already affected 61 workers in 2015.

20 studies conducted claimed that toxins released are "far exceeding occupational limits".

Nuclear experts have called Hanford "the most toxic place in America" and "an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen."

2016Recent leaks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation

In April'16 the Hanford Nuclear Reservation sent the alarm bells ringing as a report revealed that of the 28 double-shelled tanks used for storage of radioactive materials, AY-102 was leaking toxic-sludge into the soil.

Approximately 20,000 gallons of plutonium was left from the original 800,000 gallons in the tank.

Later, there were reports that another tank AY-101 had started leaking too, posing serious threat.

10 May 2017Cave in at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, emergency declared