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Washington State Presses Feds For Cleanup Of Tunnels, Failing Infrastructure At Hanford

Washington state is taking legal action against the U.S. government after a tunnel full of radioactive waste collapsed Tuesday at the Hanford nuclear site.

Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon called the incident “alarming” and said state officials need to hold the feds accountable to cleanup the site. She said the U.S. Department of Energy needs to immediately assess the integrity of the tunnels and fix them.

The infrastructure built to temporarily store radioactive waste is now more than 50 years old. The state said the tunnel collapse is direct evidence that it's failing.

The Yakama Nation, a group of Northwest tribes, is also calling for quicker cleanup of the tunnels.

At the Hanford nuclear site, workers have filled the tunnel cave-in with dirt and employees there are returning to work.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.