BREAKING NEWS: An extremely radioactive tunnel at Hanford partially collapsed this morning. I'm taking a break from nonstop briefings to major news outlets and other state officials to let you know what happened and why (I'll be on NBC national news this evening, and have been interviewed today by KING TV, the Washington Post, AP... - read our full news release and detailed background for media here)
Over Heart of America Northwest's and literally hundreds of your - our members - objections, exactly one year ago the US Energy Department (USDOE) was given permission by Washington and USEPA to delay removal of the extremely radioactive wastes from the "
" until the year 2042.
The wastes in the tunnels are so radioactive that a person entering the tunnel could receive a lethal dose in well under an hour. The legal deadline for removing the wastes under the Hanford Cleanup Agreement had been 2024. USDOE should have begun asking Congress for funding to plan how to remove the wastes several years ago to meet that deadline.
Instead, USDOE asked WA Ecology and USEPA to eliminate the entire legal deadline to cleanup all waste sites in the ground on Hanford's Central Plateau, including the over 100 yard long PUREX Tunnels, other than the leaking High-Level Waste Tanks, by 2024.
We objected, warning that the PUREX Tunnels in which High Level Radioactive Waste fuel and other extremely radioactive wastes were put on rail cars, could collapse either due to age or a mild earthquake - sending massive doses of radiation into the air (PUREX is the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant).
In responding to your and our objections, USDOE issued a report that acknowledged the tunnels could collapse with lethal doses of radiation escaping in a mild earthquake, but which
claimed the tunnels could not collapse for thirty years due to age and effects of radiation on the concrete and wood supports
What USDOE claimed couldn't happen for 30 years happened today!
We are just incredibly lucky that it appears no radiation has been released with the subsidence and collapse found today. But, entering the tunnels to assess their integrity is not going to happen anytime soon: radiation doses are intense and now the tunnel is likely partially blocked. Nor can we know that the damage done will not cause structural damage leading to further collapse and a large radiation release.
full news release here
with detailed factual background, including the history of USDOE refusing to listen to warnings. As you will see, we have years of research and advocacy to get the PUREX Tunnels emptied before they collapse.
As a State Representative, I can tell you that I am upset that Washington State and EPA went along with USDOE's delay and ignored the warnings that the PUREX Tunnels, along with other very dangerous nearby facilities, are a ticking time bomb.
Urge Governor Inslee to take action here
, and please email your US Senators and US Rep.
Ironically, in response to our comments, instead of taking action, the agencies agreed to do a structural integrity report later this year on the now collapsing PUREX Tunnel.
We have been doing the research, organizing and lobbying to prevent accidents like this from happening for thirty years. Wednesday is Give Big day and
we hope you will make a generous contribution right now
to help us meet our $3,000 goal.
You can pre-schedule a contribution today
! For every dollar over $2,000 we raise towards that goal tomorrow, we will have a match!
So, now is the perfect time to make a gift so we can keep doing this work, or click right here to proudly renew your membership for 2017: