Emergency News Release: Oregon Monitors Nuclear Incident at Hanford


Rachel Wray, 503-689-0294

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Energy is carefully monitoring developments at the Hanford Nuclear Site near Richland, Washington. Nuclear experts on ODOE’s nuclear safety and emergency preparedness team report that the incident is not affecting Oregon at this time.

U.S. Department of Energy officials notified the State of Oregon at 8:30 a.m. of subsidence (ground caving in or sinking) at the now-defunct Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility on the Hanford site. Officials report that a tunnel where the subsidence is reported is used to store contaminated waste. Workers in the immediate area have been evacuated or have taken shelter.

“While there are special precautions being taken on-site at Hanford, Oregonians do not need to take any special precautions or protective actions,” said Michael Kaplan, Director of the Oregon Department of Energy, which conducts emergency planning for a nuclear incident. “We want people to be aware that we’re closely monitoring the incident at Hanford and will continue to provide more information as soon as it becomes available.”

Governor Kate Brown said, "Our focus is on the safety of workers and those living in nearby communities. Through my office and the Oregon Department of Energy, I am closely monitoring the situation to ensure the public is safe and aware of any developments.”

The State of Oregon set up an Agency Operations Center at the Oregon Department of Energy in Salem as a precaution. The AOC staff is trained to respond to a nuclear accident and involves several state agencies, including the Oregon Department of Energy, Oregon Health Authority, and Oregon Department of Agriculture.

The Hanford Site is about 35 miles north of Umatilla, Oregon.

ODOE updates will be posted regularly online:

The USDOE is also posting updates online: http://www.hanford.gov/c.cfm/eoc/?page=290

Photo: historic photograph of Hanford Nuclear Site, USDOE