Hanford official: Tunnel could collapse again

KING 5's Greg Copeland reports.

Less than a week after a tunnel collapse at Hanford's PUREX site, Senator Cantwell visited the nuclear site Saturday, concerned about the recent collapse and the possibility of more.

"There is still a potential that we could have an additional collapse of that tunnel," said Doug Shoop, manager at the Department of Energy Richland Operations Office.

Managers of the Hanford site know the recent tunnel collapse scares a lot of people. The 400-square-foot hole exposed an area containing radioactive waste, though none escaped. Now, they're taking extra precaution.

"What we will be doing, weather permitting, will be putting a very large cover over the top of that tunnel number one," said Shoop.

That cover meant to keep radioactive particles in the dirt from flying into the air in the event of another collapse. But this is just another bandage. Right now, there's only enough funding for maintenance at the site. Last year a federal judge set a new deadline of 2022 to begin cleanup.

Senator Cantwell wants to make sure the DOE sticks to the deadline.

"We'll continue to make the case to the administration, that we've made to every administration, that the federal funding role of the DOE remains critical in fulfilling our legal obligations here at the Hanford site," said Cantwell.

© 2017 KING-TV


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