Hanford’s Contaminated Tunnel Nearly Half Full Of Grout

File photo of Tunnel 1 under construction. This is the tunnel that collapsed in May. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


At the Hanford Site, the job to seal in a tunnel full of radioactive waste is nearly half done according to the federal government. It became a high-priority project when the tunnel partially collapsed this past May, causing an emergency at Hanford.

An artist’s rendition of a cutaway of Tunnel 1. Large equipment from the PUREX plant that had worn out was driven into the tunnel with a remote locomotive.

Workers are doing the job at night so that hundreds of trucks carrying fresh grout can travel without traffic.

But this big job has had some hitches. When workers started pouring the grout earlier this month, some more of the roof of the tunnel collapsed around where they were injecting it. That’s a concern because the tunnel is highly contaminated and officials don’t want any radioactive particles dusting up.

Filling up the tunnel with grout has been criticized by some who question how the government will ever further clean up the tunnel.

The tunnel holds very-large worn-out equipment leftover from processing plutonium for bomb making during World War II and the Cold War.

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