Tunnel collapse at Hanford Nuclear site, emergency declared

Tunnel collapse at Hanford Nuclear site, emergency declared

An emergency was declared Tuesday at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington after a portion of a tunnel that contains rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed, CBS News reported.

The alert was activated shortly before 8:30 a.m. at the Hanford Emergency Operations Center, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The accident occurred at a facility known as PUREX, located in the middle of the sprawling Hanford site, which is half the size of Rhode Island. The closed PUREX plant was part of the nation's nuclear weapons production complex.  

Authorities say the collapse took place within one of two rail tunnels under the PUREX site, which contains contaminated materials. One tunnel is about 360 feet long, and the other is approximately 1,700 feet long. The partial collapse took place in an area where the two tunnels join together.

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