Hanford Workers Get ‘All Clear’ After Shelter Indoors Order During Tunnel-Filling Operation
Officials at the Hanford Nuclear Site ordered workers to stay indoors Friday morning as a precaution. They discovered steam rising from an unexpected part of a tunnel filled with highly contaminated waste.
By mid-day, officials had announced they found no contamination.
Workers had expected some steam as they began grouting work to fill a radioactive waste-filled tunnel at Hanford’s Plutonium Uranium Extraction, or PUREX, facility. They just didn’t expect it to escape from this spot.
Earlier this month, they’d started piping grout into the site’s second tunnel. The concrete-like grout is supposed to stabilize it. Officials had worried it was in danger of imminent collapse. A smaller, older tunnel had partially collapsed in May 2017. That tunnel has already been filled with grout.
Surveys Friday morning determined there was no radioactive release and the steam was caused by the grouting work. Officials explained that as the grout hardens, it heats up and creates moisture, which mixed with the cool morning air.
Workers sheltered indoors for about four hours.
The report from the independent Government Accountability Office says the U.S. Department of Energy has not found the root causes of the partial collapse of the waste-storage tunnel, and that failures in DOE’s investigation, inspections and maintenance of other aging and contaminated facilities is concerning. Continue Reading Federal Watchdog Criticizes Energy Department For Hanford Cleanup, Tunnel Collapse
From 1949 to 1989, the massive plant’s job was to turn caustic liquids containing plutonium into solid plutonium “buttons,” as they were known. The finished buttons were about the size of hockey pucks and were used for America’s nuclear weapons. Continue Reading Hanford’s Long-Shuttered Plutonium Finishing Plant Is Now Demolished After Delays, Safety Issues
Washington Department of Ecology leaders say without access to this data, they can’t effectively protect the land, air and water for residents in eastern Washington and surrounding communities. They say they’ve attempted to negotiate this issue with federal Energy managers for years. Continue Reading Washington State Regulators Fine Feds More Than $1 Million Over Hanford Cleanup Data