Tunnel 2 is filled with highly-radioactive equipment leftover from a plutonium plant and the feds say it’s also in danger of collapse.
At the meeting, they presented a raft of ideas to stabilize it:
- Tarp it like they did to Tunnel 1
- Slap a tent on it
- Put a structure like a hangar over it
- Put a more substantial building on it
- Fill the tunnel with expanding foam
- Cause a controlled collapse of the tunnel
- Retrieve the waste from the tunnel
- Fill it up with grout, like they plan with Tunnel 1
- Simply watch the tunnel more closely than before
With each option, the Department of Energy is weighing how it protects the environment and people, how much it costs, and how easy it is to do, and maintain.
Several people after the meeting said they were worried that if Energy fills up both tunnels with grout, they may never clean up the tunnels further, essentially creating a shallow dump site of highly radioactive waste.
The feds say they’ll have the best option selected by August 1, and that they will take public comment before they select a final option.
Tunnel 1 was found partially collapsed this spring by Hanford workers. Since the emergency Hanford leaders and site watchdogs have called for more money to be spent on Hanford’s aging buildings and infrastructure, saying cleanup isn’t going fast enough compared to the aging site. Hanford was the nation’s workhorse during World War II and the Cold War, pumping out large amounts of plutonium for bombs. What’s left is waste and infrastructure like the tunnels that still need cleaning up.