The Energy Department said on Twitter that Secretary Rick Perry had been briefed on the incident, everyone was accounted for and there was no initial indication of worker exposure or airborne radiological release.
Officials say there was no release of radiation and no workers were injured; no workers were inside the tunnel when it collapsed, but others were evacuated or told to remain indoors.
"At that point.an emergency was declared and about half a dozen employees at the facility were evacuated", he said. Workers were told to shelter in place as a precautionary measure and crews are continuing to check for contamination, according to the statement.
The Hanford Site, about 150 miles southeast of Seattle, is a former nuclear production complex and home to a long-running, challenging and sometimes troubled clean-up operation.
The collapsed tunnel is primarily used to store hazardous waste (on a temporary basis while the PUREX site awaits decontamination and demolition at an undetermined future date), and crews are working to assess whether any contamination has been released.
"There is a big hole there and radiation could be beaming out", he said.
According to Hanford Emergency Information, "Responders are on the scene and are reporting the soil has subsided (collapsed) in an area approximately 4 feet by 4 feet over one of the tunnels" next to PUREX, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction facility.
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Short, medium and long-term policies need to be formulated at different levels to deal with the problem, the home minister said. The chief ministers of Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand were in attendance.
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The board's advisers are appointed for three-year terms, which are typically renewed even under a new administration. Freire said there was no specific plan to seek out more industry appointees for the Board of Scientific Counselors.
There were no reports of injury and officials at the plant could not be immediately reached for comment.
The agency says the rail tunnels are hundreds of feet long, with about eight feet (2.4 meters) of soil covering them. It later described a 20-square-foot cave-in of soil into tunnels carrying "contaminated materials". "The tunnels contain contaminated materials".
CNN reported, since 1989, the government has been in the process of cleaning up the site, which state and federal authorities have dubbed "the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere". Hanford previously refined plutonium for nuclear weapons but it is now a despoitory for nuclear waste. An emergency has been declared May 9, 2017, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Thousands of workers moved into the site where plutonium was produced for use in atomic bombs.
The committee oversees the department's management of the cleanup efforts.
Before the collapse underground tanks were reportedly leaking toxic and radioactive vapours that have been linked to cancer, brain damage and lung damage.