Washington state takes legal action against U.S. government following Hanford tunnel collapse

Washington state takes legal action...

HANFORD, Wash. - A tunnel storing contaminated equipment at the Hanford Site is now filled following a collapse on Tuesday.

However, Washington state is taking legal action against the U.S. government to make sure nothing like this happens again.

The tunnel is more than half a century old according to the Department of Ecology.

The enforcement order will legally require the U.S. Department of Energy to find the cause of the collapse, look into further risk of another collapse, ensure that the contaminated materials inside are safely stored and submit a plan to permanently clean up waste in the tunnels.

A spokesperson for CH2M Hill a Hanford contractor, said crews are still working and looking ahead.

"There is periodic surveillance going on right now and there is a whole team trying to determine the next steps over these next few days," said Destry Henderson.

"Since this happened Tuesday our focus has been on the safety of employees and the safety of the public and that will continue to be our focus," he said.

Henderson said officials plan to take more action to ensure employee and public safety by placing a cover over the tunnel, even though it is now filled.

Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry recognized the potential danger that Hanford poses to the community.

"I am committed to working with you in prioritizing what is one of the most dangerous, most polluted sites that we have in this country," he said during the vetting process for him to become energy secretary.

In a statement Thursday morning, Perry said "this week's incident is a reminder that men and women who work for the department of energy do incredible work, but that does not come without risk."

He then went on to say the next step is to implement longer term measures to reduce risks.

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