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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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State approves request to fill aging Hanford tunnel

In this May 9, 2017, file photo, signs are posted by the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Benton County in Richland, Wash. The U.S. government will pay $925,000 and improve worker safety to settle a lawsuit over employee exposure to chemical vapors at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, that the U.S. Energy Department will test new technology to capture and destroy dangerous vapors that escape from nuclear waste storage tanks at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. (Manuel Valdes / Associated Press)
In this May 9, 2017, file photo, signs are posted by the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Benton County in Richland, Wash. The U.S. government will pay $925,000 and improve worker safety to settle a lawsuit over employee exposure to chemical vapors at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, that the U.S. Energy Department will test new technology to capture and destroy dangerous vapors that escape from nuclear waste storage tanks at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. (Manuel Valdes / Associated Press)
Associated Press

RICHLAND– The Department of Energy has been cleared to immediately begin stabilizing a tunnel containing highly radioactive waste that is at risk of collapse.

The Tri-City Herald reported filling the tunnel with a concrete-like grout intended to strengthen the structure located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation could start in the next week.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and some of the waste is stored in tunnels on the huge site.

One tunnel partially collapsed in 2017. A study revealed a second and much larger tunnel, built in 1964, was at serious risk of collapse.

The Energy Department told its Hanford regulator, the Washington State Department of Ecology, in July that it wanted to begin grouting the tunnel in August but the state had already scheduled public meetings and a comment period.

That period ended Thursday and the work was approved Friday.

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