The Oregon Department of Energy has activated its emergency operation center in response to an emergency at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington.
ODOE officials are coordinating with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Health Authority and nuclear safety experts at Oregon State University, ODOE spokeswoman Rachel Wray said Tuesday morning.
“Hanford is 35 miles away from Oregon,” Wray said.
“We are concerned about Oregonians’ health and that concerns the food we eat.”
The U.S. Department of Energy declared an emergency at the site at 8:26 a.m. Tuesday after a routine check found that a portion of a storage tunnel that contains radioactive waste had collapsed.
The tunnels are hundreds of feet long and are covered by about eight feet of soil.
The Hanford Fire Department is on scene and is reporting that the tunnel has caved in in an area approximately 20 feet by 20 feet over one of the tunnels next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, or PUREX.
There is no indication of a release of contamination at this point, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a news release.
There were no workers in the tunnel when it collapsed.
Workers in that area of the site have been evacuated, and those in potentially affected areas have been told to stay indoors
Hanford is located on the Columbia River near Richland, Wash. It has more than 9,000 employees. About 29,000 Oregonians live in the nearby communities of Boardman, Irrigon, Hermiston and Umatilla.