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Workers start filling collapsed plutonium plant tunnel in Washington

Staff Writer |
Workers began filling in a tunnel containing radioactive waste collapsed at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington, the Department of Energy said.

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On Tuesday, nearly 4,800 employees took shelter indoors for five hours after a 20-foot-by-20-foot section of 360-foot-long tunnel containing eight railcars filled with radioactive material caved in. Non-essential workers were told to not return to work Wednesday.

Overnight, Crews worked laid a gravel bed to make a road for heavy equipment, the Department of Energy said in an advisory.

On Wednesday morning, crews began using soil to fill the cave-in. About 50 truckloads of soil would be needed to "stabilize that portion of the tunnel," the department said.

Workers are wearing protective suits and breathing masks, said the department, which issued a video of the remediation.

"All personnel are accounted for, there are no injuries," Hanford emergency center spokesman Destry Henderson said Tuesday. "There is no evidence of a radiological release."

The tunnel, which was sealed in 1965, contains 780 cubic yards of waste.

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