Vacant tunnel at nuclear site collapses in Washington state From “This picture shows a 20-foot by 20-foot hole in the roof of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long.
Surveys of the area show no indication of release of contamination as a result of the cave-in.” (credit: Hanford)

A vacant tunnel leading to a 60-year-old plutonium uranium extraction plant (called PUREX) on southeastern Washington’s Hanford Site has collapsed, according to reports. Hanford issued a warning to employees and ordered those in the vicinity to shelter in place while crews investigated the 20×20-foot cave-in above the tunnel.
No one has been reported hurt or injured, and no radiological release has been reported.

But by noon Pacific Time, several thousand workers had been asked to take cover.
The collapsed section of tunnel leads to PUREX, a facility that was built in the early 1950s to extract plutonium from irradiated fuel rods as part of the site’s nuclear weapons program. PUREX was in operation from 1956 to 1972 and from 1983 to 1988, according to Hanford’s website.

The building has been vacant for two decades, and several rail cars that once transported fuel rods to the PUREX facility were buried in one of the tunnels near the facility due to contamination.
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