Thousands of Hanford workers are currently under a "take cover order" when steam was spotted coming out of the PUREX storage tunnel.

#UPDATE 12:15 PM: Hanford workers have been released from the take over order. No radioactive particles were found to have escaped the tunnel in the survey tests.

#UPDATE 12 PM. Hanford officials are waiting for the results of the radiological surveys being done on the tunnel. Employees are still told to stay inside.


The order was made around 6 am this morning for the 200 East Area that includes workers building the $17 billion vitrification plant. Steam was spotted coming from a tunnel where it should not be.

On a regular day, about 3,300 workers are located in the 200 East Area. Some workers might not be on sight because they hadn't arrived by the time the order was made.

The tunnel stores obsolete or unusable equipment that is radioactive underground. The tunnel has been recently been worked on by crews trying to fill it with grout to help prevent a collapse.

As of 9:30 am, crews were preparing to enter the area in protective suits to take readings. They will take "radiological surveys and start the generators to power lights and cameras inside the tunnel and air sampling equipment to further assess conditions inside and outside of the tunnel", according to reports.

The Department of Energy says the protective order is just a precaution and restate that "no emergency has been declared. The Emergency Operations Center has not been activated."

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