Nuclear Waste Accident Occurs Next to Columbia River

Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation facility declares emergency after tunnel collapses on waste.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation facility, once called “The Most Toxic Place in America” by NBC News is under lockdown today as a tunnel that housed rail cars full of highly radioactive waste has collapsed. Hanford sits near the banks of the Columbia River in southern Washington.

Workers near the tunnel collapse were evacuated immediately following the incident, while employees elsewhere at the facility were told to remain indoors and to “refrain from eating and drinking.” The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activated the Hanford Emergency Operations Center and crews are working to determine the scale of the accident.

The Hanford facility websites explains: “There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point,” but crews are on site trying to determine whether the surrounding areas have seen any radioactive contamination.

Hanford, now closed, developed nuclear materials from the early days of the Manhattan Project, specializing in plutonium production. The site contains more than 150 buried nuclear waste storage tanks that have long been leaking radiation and toxic chemicals, and have been an ongoing cleanup concern for state, local, and federal governments for years. The DOE has noted that Hanford emits dangerously toxins into the atmosphere, and that the site “cannot effectively control” any threats to the environment posed by the stored waste.

The State of Washington and the Hanford plant claim that no radioactive waste has ever reached the Columbia, but the BBC has reported that hundreds of billions of gallons of contaminated water have been released into the ground near the site over the years.

Adventure Journal is free but relies on reader support to make stories like this possible. Please join the thousands of your fellow adventurers and subscribe to our amazing printed quarterly or pick up an issue here.


Showing 5 comments
  • Lee

    If it makes you feel any better, Rick Perry is in charge of this DOE now.

    • Richard

      On the plus side (maybe), this administration hasn’t yet realized that the DOE is in charge of the “Nukular” Program.Trump thinks it’s part of the DOD.

  • Chris

    My exact thoughts.

  • funhog

    If you read the State of Washington Dept of Ecology website on Hanford they explicitly say the groundwater has been contaminated.
    61 square miles, and it will take centuries to restore it. 🙁

    At two BILLION a year, don’t expect results soon.

  • TJ

    Actions have consequences. When a former president shuts down Yucca Mountain and funding to adequately clean up these waste sites for 8 years, this is the outcome. There have been environmental concerns at Hanford and requests to fund technologies that would remove some of the waste and treat others, along with numerous efforts to address groundwater contamination issues. Maybe now we will get serious about taking action instead of ignoring what’s going on. And because we ignored this we can now deal with increased air contamination also.

Leave a Comment

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This