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szdaily -> World
Tunnel collapse latest safety issue at nuclear site in US
    2017-May-11  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

THE collapse of an underground tunnel containing radioactive waste that forced workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the United States to shelter in place is the latest incident to raise safety concerns at the sprawling site that made plutonium for nuclear bombs for decades after World War II.

Officials detected no release of radiation Tuesday and no workers were injured, said Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the Washington state Department of Ecology.

No workers were inside the tunnel when it collapsed, causing soil on the surface above to sink 0.5 to 1.2 meters over a 37-square-meter area, officials said.

The tunnels are hundreds of meters long, with about 2.4 meters of soil covering them, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

The anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear said the incident helped show “radioactive waste management is out of control.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said worker safety must be the priority.

Worker safety has long been a concern at Hanford, which is located about 322 kilometers southeast of Seattle.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit last fall against the Energy Department and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, contending vapors released from underground nuclear waste tanks posed a serious risk to workers.

Ferguson said that since the early 1980s, hundreds of workers have been exposed to vapors escaping from the tanks and that those breathing the vapors developed nosebleeds, chest and lung pain, headaches, coughing, sore throats, irritated eyes and difficulty breathing.

Lawyers for the Energy Department have said no evidence has been provided showing workers have been harmed by vapors.

The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

(SD-Agencies)

 

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