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Work begins to fill hole at collapsed Hanford tunnel

Work begins to fill hole at collapsed Hanford tunnel

Workers on Wednesday began plugging a hole in the collapsed tunnel at the Hanford Site in the western state of Washington, where an emergency was declared the previous day and thousands of workers were placed on lockdown for several hours. He said non-essential employees were asked to stay home Wednesday while crews prepare to fill in the collapsed portion of the tunnel.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Mark Heeter said eight rail cars were inside the tunnel-named "Tunnel 1".

On Tuesday morning, about six Hanford employees on routine rounds noticed that an area of soil over one of the tunnels had sunk, Henderson said.

The tunnel is next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, known as PUREX, in the center of Hanford at the 200 East Area.

A portion of a tunnel containing buried rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed Tuesday at a sprawling storage facility in a remote area of Washington state, forcing an evacuation of some workers at the site that made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades after World War II.

On Tuesday, almost 4,800 employees took shelter indoors for five hours after a 20-foot-by-20-foot section of 360-foot-long tunnel containing eight railcars filled with radioactive material caved in.

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

Its last reactor closed down in 1987 and since then some 8,000 people at the facility have been working to clean up millions of gallons of leftover waste stored in aging tanks.

"Ensuring the safety of the workers and the community is the top priority", said Inslee, a Democrat who previously represented the Hanford region in Congress.

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The Hanford Site, about 150 miles southeast of Seattle, is a former nuclear production complex and home to a long-running, challenging and sometimes troubled cleanup operation.

"The issue is whether or not there's sufficient wind to start sucking materials out of that tunnel and into the environment", said Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, a Hanford watchdog organization.

The spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Ecology.

"The temporary solutions DOE has used for decades to contain radioactive waste at Hanford have limited lifespans", said Sen.

It has been sealed since the mid-1990s, according to the department of energy. The concern was that if the roof of the tunnel collapsed it could release long-trapped contaminated material into the air. "The workforce has safely left the site, other than personnel essential to the recovery plan", the DOE said in a statement late Tuesday.

A U.S. Department of Energy news release says Perry was told the agency will monitor the situation.

"No action is now required for residents of Benton and Franklin counties", the Energy Department said, referring to the almost 300,000 residents near the site about 200 miles southeast of Seattle. "After extensive testing the site remains confident at this point that there has been no indication of worker exposure or an airborne radiological release".

Hanford made most of the plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons, including the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, during the war.

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