Leaders and technical experts at the Hanford nuclear site have decided to fill a tunnel that partially collapsed last month with grout. That tunnel is full of radioactive waste.
It will take hundreds of truckloads of grout to fill the tunnel which measures more than 300-feet long, 19-feet wide and 22-feet high.
The grouting and curing will be done in stages. The idea is to stabilize the tunnel and keep any radioactive waste shielded and held down in case the tunnel were to collapse more.
Just how they’ll grout it or what it will cost—or if it will be cleaned up more later—hasn’t been determined yet.
“At some point in the future decisions will have to be made on how that material will be removed. But we just don’t have that right now,” U.S. Department of Energy spokesman Mark Heeter said. “Our immediate concern is getting that tunnel filled back up.”
Heeter said this isn’t the first time grout has been used to stabilize waste at Hanford. It was used to fill up the K-East Basin near the Columbia River and recently in a hot cell at the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility.
The collapsed tunnel, located near the PUREX plant, was found by workers doing surveys. No one was injured and no release of radioactive material was found by the federal government.