Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation were evacuated on Tuesday after a tunnel collapsed on top of rail cars filled with radioactive waste.
"Employee safety is our number one focus and within the last hour, crews have begun the long process of slowly and methodically filling the collapsed portion of that tunnel with soil", Destry Henderson, deputy news manager for the Hanford Joint Information Center, said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the Hanford Site says the road provides a secure and clear path for workers to fill the tunnel opening.
Safely removing it now is proving enormously expensive, slow-going, extraordinarily risky and so complex that much of the technology required simply does not exist.
The agency said in a statement that the 20-foot section is part of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long and "used to store contaminated materials". The collapsed tunnel was hundreds of feet long and contained nuclear fuel rods stored in train cars underneath.More news: NASA Nixes Plans to Send Astronauts to Lunar Orbit in 2019
Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Washington Post yesterday that there is considerable cause for concern about the tunnel collapse, notwithstanding reassurances from government officials. An emergency was declared Tuesday after the partial collapse of the tunnel that contains rail cars full of radioactive waste.
"If you have collapsing tunnels that could expose workers, this is a very dramatic concern that we have", Governor Inslee said.
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.
Hanford is one of several active sites undergoing cleanup under the direction of the Department of Energy's Office of Environment Management.
Officials say a collapsed patch of ground above the tunnel was larger than first believed. The site - with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities - is now managed by the DOE's Richland Operations Office, which is responsible for the cleanup of all remaining waste streams at the site.More news: Advisory Issued after Sharks Spotted Near Capistrano Beach
The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the USA government on the Columbia River.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is closely following developments at the Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state, as it continues to plan for it's own nuclear waste site in Bruce county. "We've always known that we have great challenges at Hanford".
Lawyers for the Energy Department have said no evidence has been provided showing workers have been harmed by vapors.
There are calls from a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for an Energy Department brief the panel on the cause the collapse.
The most unsafe waste at Hanford is 56 million gallons stored in 177 underground tanks, some of which have leaked.More news: UK working to restore hospital systems after cyberattack