At approximately 0830 PDT, 9 May 2017, a soil subsidence was identified during a routine inspection of the PUREX tunnels at the Hanford 200 East Area. This winter has been a high precipitation year and last week heavy rains occurred in the Richland, WA area. There are 2 subsurface rail tunnels in this area, one constructed of timbers and one of concrete. The tunnels are covered with approximately 8 feet of soil (see red area in photo below). The tunnels are currently housing highly radioactive contaminated equipment. The soil subsidence has been identified in the proximity to the timber tunnel. Closest off-Hanford population is approximately 7.5 miles away in a mostly agricultural area of Franklin County Washington.
These tunnels were identified as potential vulnerability due to their age and construction materials several years ago. EPA, DOE and the State of Washington have been in the process of developing a plan to further assess the area. The tunnels are considered RCRA Dangerous Waste Units regulated by the State of Washington’s RCRA program.
EPA deployed OSC for situational awareness and reporting of activities related to the site emergency`
Hanford emergency response personnel are conducting radiological surveys in the area.