Sirens are blaring as an emergency is declared

HANFORD, Washington- The US Department of Energy has declared an emergency at the Hanford, Washington nuclear waste storage site, following an apparent  breach of a tunnel used to store radioactive materials and equipment.

Approximately  3,000 workers have sought cover at the 200 East Area of the sprawling complex, local media reported. By 10:30 am local time, the “take cover” orders have been expanded to the entire site, which is about half the size of Rhode Island local media has reported.

A portion of a tunnel near the plutonium-uranium extraction plant (PUREX) collapsed early Tuesday morning local time, most likely from vibrations produced by nearby road work, KING-TV reported.

Initial reports spoke of a 4-foot (1.2 meter) hole, which was later expanded to 20 feet (6 meters) across, at the junction of two tunnels used in the 1960s to store highly radioactive materials and equipment, such as trains used to transport nuclear fuel rods. Officials say a collapsed patch of ground above the tunnel was larger than first believed. The U.S. Department of Energy said the collapse covered about 400 square feet (37.1 square meters) instead of the 16 square feet (1.4 square meters) first reported