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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Oct. 4, 2023

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Wildfire burning near center of Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington


KENNEWICK — A wildfire was burning near the center of the Hanford nuclear reservation site in Eastern Washington Sunday afternoon.

The fire was reported at 11:40 a.m. and was believed to have been started by a lightning strike, according to the Department of Energy.

By about 4 p.m. the Hanford Fire Department had back burn lines around the fire but had it stopped only at Route 11A, which runs east and west just south of Gable Mountain.

The fire was burning in the area east of the tank farms where radioactive waste is stored in underground tanks and to the west of Route 2 South. No facilities are nearby, DOE said.

By 5:30 p.m. DOE announced that the fire was contained, with an estimated 1,000 acres burned.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office asked Hanford employees who were working at the site Sunday to avoid the fire area as emergency crews continued to fight it.

The 580 square mile Hanford site adjoining Richland was used from World War II through the Cold War to produce nearly two-thirds of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Environmental cleanup is underway on the site which has 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks and contaminated buildings, waste sites, soil and groundwater.