A tunnel from the Nuclear Reserve in Hanford, Washington, has partially collapsed. The accident occurred in an extraction production complex for the production of nuclear weapons.
A tunnel from the Nuclear Reserve in Hanford, southeast of Washington, in the United States, partially collapsed on Tuesday morning, the Associated Press reports. The tunnel contained wagons containing nuclear waste and was declared an emergency alert immediately.
A recent Twitter update of Hanford’s official website reported that the collapse caused a break in the tunnel containing heavily contaminated materials.
The accident happened in one of the two tunnels of a nuclear-weapons-produced plutonium and uranium extraction complex called PUREX, located in the middle of Hanford. Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Ecology, told the same source that apparently no radiation was released. Possible contamination in air and soil is being evaluated by a robot.
The emergency alert was given at 8:26 am local time (1:26 pm in Lisbon) on Hanford’s website. At the time of the collapse there were no workers in the tunnel so there is no record of injuries so far. The remaining employees in the surrounding area were removed from the buildings.
An Instagram user shared a video with the time of the evacuation. According to the Washington Post, the US Department of Energy asked the workers to remain inside the buildings and to ventilate them.
According to a source quoted by NBC NEWS, the collapse will have been caused by the vibrations caused by ongoing work on a nearby road.
The dark area underneath the tall orange flag is the collapse site – a hole left by the tunnel collapse. pic.twitter.com/7fvqsRimhC
— Susannah Frame (@SFrameK5) May 9, 2017
Susannah Frame, a KING5 reporter, shared a photo on her Twitter showing the area that collapsed. According to Frame, it corresponds to the area where you see a dark spot under the orange flag in the background, which will be a hole left by the collapse. The part of the tunnel that collapsed had wagons carrying fuel.
The Nuclear Reserve in Hanford was nicknamed “the most toxic place in America” by NBC News in November last year.