Hanford's "take cover" turns out to be a steam 'burp' - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford's "take cover" turns out to be a steam 'burp'

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RICHLAND, WA - For nearly five hours Friday morning, Hanford employees were ordered to take cover after workers discovered steam coming from Purex Tunnel 2 while filling it.

The take cover message was finally lifted around noon today, but that was hours after that initial message went out. 

"The occurrence appears to be limited to the immediate vicinity of the tunnel at this time. There is no indication of a release of hazardous material," said the message sent to workers.

The message was described as a steam release, but turned out to be what they call a 'burp.' Tunnel 2 was recently grouted to stabilize it after Tunnel 1 collapsed last year, which sent workers to shelter in place for most of the day.

A Department of Energy press release states the grout curing process generates heat and moisture. When that moisture is met with the morning air, then steam is produced.

Over the next few days, crews will evaluate the covering of the opening in the structure where that burp happened. After that, they will continue to stabilize the tunnel.

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10:30 AM UPDATE:

HANFORD SITE: Radiological surveys in near PUREX Tunnel 2 are underway. There has been no indication of radiological release. The 200 East Area, located in the center of the Hanford Site, remains under a precautionary take cover while crews investigate the source of steam observed from PUREX Tunnel 2 this morning.

Crews were preparing to resume stabilization activities this morning when they noticed the steam. The steam was noted coming from a small building at the north end of Tunnel 2. This building houses equipment to move a large door used to access the tunnel for placement of railcars containing contaminated equipment inside the tunnel. The door is 24 feet high, about 22 feet wide and is about 7 feet thick, and is built of steel. Cars were last placed in the tunnel in 1996.

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9:30 AM UPDATE:

HANFORD SITE - "The 200 East Area, located in the center of the Hanford Site, remains under a precautionary take cover while crews investigate the source of steam observed from PUREX Tunnel 2 this morning. There has been no indication of radiological release. Crews wearing protective equipment and breathing filtered air are preparing to approach Tunnel 2, at which time they will take radiological surveys and start the generators to power lights and cameras inside the tunnel and air sampling equipment to further assess conditions inside and outside of the tunnel.

Crews were preparing to resume stabilization activities this morning when they noticed the steam. The steam was noted coming from a small building at the north end of Tunnel 2. This building houses equipment to move a large door used to access the tunnel for placement of railcars containing contaminated equipment inside the tunnel. The door is 24 feet high, about 22 feet wide and is about 7 feet thick, and is built of steel. Cars were last placed in the tunnel in 1996."  - Hanford.gov

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8:00 AM UPDATE:

HANFORD SITE -A take cover was called as a precautionary measure in the 200 East Area on Hanford Site after steam was observed coming from PUREX Tunnel 2 during tunnel filling operations.

The occurrence appears to be limited to the immediate vicinity of the tunnel at this time.

There is no indication of a release of hazardous material. Employees are currently directed to continue to take cover in the 200 East Area until more information can be obtained.

Hanford site federal and contractor employees should contact their managers or supervisors for more information. 

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7:19 AM UPDATE:

HANFORD SITE -  A Hanford Vit Plant media relations contact can confirm the "Take Cover" alert in the 200 East Area of Hanford was directed as a precaution after steam was observed coming from PUREX Tunnel 2 during tunnel filling operations.

There is no indication of a release of hazardous material. Employees are directed to continue to take cover in the 200 East Area until more information can be obtained.

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HANFORD SITE - A Hanford Vit Plant media relations contact says he can confirm a "Take Cover" alert went out to employees Friday morning and that is all the information they have available for employees at this time. 

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