Disasters and Accidents

Disasters and Accidents

Masahiko OHKUBO / Flickr - tinyurl.com/l6vwtfp

Vulnerability assessments by utilities and emergency planners along the U.S. West Coast suggest it could be weeks or a month or more before water service gets restored after a major earthquake - not to mention electricity, sewage treatment and fuel supply too. The social and economic disruption does not have to be that bad though, given adequate preparedness and investments in critical infrastructure as demonstrated in Japan.

U.S. Department of Energy

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.


U.S. Department of Energy

Tuesday morning an emergency response was triggered at the Hanford nuclear site when a hole was found in the roof of a buried tunnel nearby a mothballed plutonium processing plant. The tunnel, constructed in the haste of the Cold War, was about 360-feet-long and built out of timbers and concrete.

So what exactly is in that tunnel? 


U.S. Department of Energy

Contractors are building a road to a collapsed train tunnel site at the Hanford nuclear reservation in southeast Washington state. Their goal is to keep any radioactive contamination from escaping the hole that was found Tuesday.

U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy issued an emergency alert Tuesday morning at the Hanford site north of Richland, Washington, after a tunnel at a radioactive cleanup site caved in. Workers at a former chemical processing plant were evacuated and thousands more across Hanford were directed to take shelter indoors.

State and federal officials said all workers were accounted for, there were no injuries and no indication of “release” of radioactivity into the environment. By early afternoon, the employees taking shelter were given permission to go home except those needed for emergency response.

FEMA

Public schools in Washington state would be encouraged—but not required—to hold at least one earthquake drill per year under a measure scheduled for Gov. Jay Inslee's signature Thursday.

North40 Productions

Megafires are the kind of wildland fires that grow beyond 100,000 acres. And they are a growing threat across the American West. That’s why one federal scientist in the Northwest is hitting the road with his research.

The state of Oregon has announced a new round of taxpayer-funded grants to help schools and other public buildings better withstand a major earthquake.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Big earthquakes happen infrequently enough in the Northwest that people can be lulled into complacency. That’s not the case in Japan.

Most large Japanese cities have at least one disaster training center, where people can learn in realistic simulators what to do in an earthquake, typhoon or fire. Leaders from the Pacific Northwest who have seen these centers say it’s a concept worth copying.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said 2.7 million acres of state land is in poor health and some of that is at risk of catastrophic wildfire.

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