The Latest: Energy secretary briefed on mishap at nuke site

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been briefed on the collapse of an underground railroad tunnel where nuclear waste is stored in a remote area of Washington state.

A U.S. Department of Energy news release says Perry was told the agency will monitor the situation.

The agency has said no one was injured Tuesday in the collapse at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and there has been no release of radioactive material to the environment.

The agency also says there is no sign that any workers were exposed to radioactivity.

The agency says it is too early to say what caused the cave-in.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the safety of Hanford's 9,000 employees is the top priority.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons and now is engaged in cleaning up the resulting waste.

Officials say a collapsed patch of ground above a nuclear waste storage tunnel in Washington state was larger than first believed.

The U.S. Department of Energy said the Tuesday collapse covered about 400 square feet (37.1 square meters) instead of the 16 square feet (1.4 square meters) first reported at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Officials detected no release of radiation and say there were no workers inside the tunnel. Nearby workers were evacuated.

The agency says the rail tunnels are hundreds of feet long, with about eight feet (2.4 meters) of soil covering them. The U.S. Department of Energy says the incident caused the soil above the tunnel to sink between 2 and 4 feet (half to 1.2 meters).

Hanford for decades made plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.



 
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