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00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d430000The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington was home to Native Americans and later to settlers. It turned into an top-secret military workhorse during World War II and the Cold War. Now, it’s one of the most pressing and complex environmental cleanup challenges humanity is facing in the world.This remote area in southeast Washington is where the federal government made plutonium for bombs during WWII and the Cold War. It’s now home to some of the most toxic contamination on earth, a witch’s brew of chemicals, radioactive waste and defunct structures. In central Hanford, leaking underground tanks full of radioactive sludge await a permanent solution. Meanwhile, a massive $12 billion waste treatment plant, designed to bind up that tank waste into more stable glass logs, has a troubled history.00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d440000Anna King is public radio's correspondent in Richland, Washington, covering the seemingly endless complexities of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Caved-In Tunnel At Hanford Covered Over With Strong Tarp

U.S. Department of Energy
Federal contractors at the Hanford nuclear site have installed a thick tarp over the collapsed tunnel structure filled with radioactive waste that collapsed two weeks ago.

Over the weekend, workers at the Hanford nuclear site finished installing a thick plastic covering over train tunnel full of radioactive waste. The tunnel was found to have collapsed and opened up a hole nearly two weeks ago.

Crews used heavy equipment to place the heavy-duty tarp over the tunnel. Then they secured it on both sides with heavy concrete blocks.

In the next few days, workers will string cables across the cover to hold it down even more. The covering is supposed to help protect workers if further collapse happens. It’s intended to keep any contamination from escaping.

It’s also a way to keep any water from getting into the eight-feet of soil above the tunnel from here on out.?

U.S. Department of Energy officials said no workers were injured during the tunnel’s collapse or later containment.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.