The Hanford Nuclear Reservation located in southeastern Washington State declared a state of emergency when a portion of a tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed on Tuesday morning.

No Injuries Or Leaks

The spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Ecology. Randy Bradbury, said that there was no radiation leaked and fortunately, workers were not injured.

Bradbury added that the collapse happened at one of two rail tunnels lying beneath the PUREX site.

Workers weren’t in the tunnel when it caved in. however, all Hanford employees, who were close to the accident, were evacuated. Other workers who were further away were ordered to stay indoors.

“This is a serious situation,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in reassurance. “Ensuring the safety of the workers and the community is the top priority.”

The collapse took place at the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility (PUREX) situated in the center of the sprawling Hanford site. The closed PUREX plant was a part of the national nuclear weapons production complex.

People were worried that the radiations released from the tunnel may affect them especially that Hanford is close to Richland, around 200 miles southeast of Seattle.


“No action is currently required for residents of Benton and Franklin counties,” the Energy Department advised. “There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point.”

Hanford was constructed during the World War II as a part of the hush-hush project. It was made to build atomic bombs such as the ones dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of WWII.

For decades, Hanford was responsible for making plutonium intended for nuclear weapons. Hanford is currently the biggest reservoir of radioactive defense waste which must be cleaned. It has about 56 million gallons of contaminated radioactive waste.