Hanford – the Manhattan Project Railway Tunnel Collapses

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Early history of Hanford

Hanford had the first large-scale plutonium production reactor in the world.United States federal government built it 74 years ago (1943) on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. The B Reactor worked for decades and it left behind 53 million US gallons (200,000 m3) of high-level radioactive waste. And it was water cooled and graphite moderated.

Hanford - the Manhattan Project Railway Tunnel Collapses
Radiation Nuclear Power World Globe Danger

A part of the Manhattan Project in Hanford, south-central Washington, is the B Reactor (105-B). Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Hanford Project, Hanford Engineer Works and Hanford Works, the site was called since it opened.

Fat Man involved

The first nuclear bomb used Plutonium fabricated at the Hanford site. “Fat Man” also contained Plutonium manufactured at Hanford. The atomic bomb called “Fat Man” was detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.


Hanford - the Manhattan Project Railway Tunnel Collapses
Replica of the original Fat Man bomb

It was called “the most contaminated nuclear site” of the U.S. nation, in 2007. Looks like back then the U.S. government accepted to judge the value of the damage to natural resources caused by plutonium production. This kind of evaluations usually consists millions of dollars.

Furthermore, the Yakama Nation sued the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2002. The cleanup of Hanford and natural resources that may have been irradiated around were assured by DOE. Two tribes along with Oregon and Washington got involved in the lawsuit.

Therefore, the department responded it was too promptly to conclude if there were any injuries to the environment or if they should pay for them. A federal judge who tried to end the disagreement engaged the two sides attend the lawsuit.

Oregon and Washington tried then to attend the talk but the DOE rejected. The federal government performing the review happened after the tribes and two states combined to perform the lawsuit. The government assessed that it would cost $113.6 billion to clean up the entire site.

Impure PUREX

The PUREX facility has its name from a chemical method used to purify fuel for nuclear reactors or nuclear weapons. It is an acronym standing for Plutonium Uranium Redox EXtraction. The facility had a significant emergency yesterday, with 4000 workers evacuated. The two tunnels from the railways containing nuclear materials swiftly crumpled. The authorities say the incident happened in a place where the tunnels connected together.

The partial collapse sank the soil overhead the tunnel at intervals of 2 and 4 feet. First of all, the workers were evacuated from around as a prevision but no crews were in the tunnel. Secondly, the Hanford site access has been secured. The employees doing constructions over the tunnels might have produced the breakdown. A serious radioactive exposure has been closely prevented.

Keep your masks open

Seems like radiation hasn’t been found for now and the employees are also safe. We should still consider this as a reminder for the fact that everyone should know what to do for a nuclear disaster. Therefore, it is not just about a war policy with Russia and China that could end with serious amount of radiation. People from everywhere live around old power plans.

All in all, taking into account the fact that one of the worst nuclear events in the history was Chernobyl and it was just an accident, it is irrational not to be ready for such possibilities.

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See also: How to deal with a nuclear blast if you want to survive

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