Colapse at Nuclear Reservation

“The Department of Energy informed us this morning that a tunnel was breached that was used to bury radioactive waste from the production of plutonium at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.

The tunnel at the Hanford plant building known as PUREX was full of contaminated particles, including radioactive train cars that transported fuel rods, according to reports. The entire site is about half the size of Rhode Island. Hanford is located about 200 miles southeast of Seattle.

The collapse was spotted by workers doing routine surveillance. “This hasn’t happened before,” US Department of Energy spokesman Mark Heeter told CNN. “There are various projects in this site and occasionally there is spread of contamination.” But never, he said, has there been a tunnel collapse.

All non-essential employees near the collapse site in an area known as 200 East Area have been sent home early, according to the official Hanford site. Workers on a swing shift who are not needed for essential site operations Tuesday are being told not to come to work as officials continue to determine how to address the cave-in.

This story is developing, we will bring more details when available.

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