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LATEST: Hanford crews work to fill collapsed portion of tunnel

After a portion of tunnel collapsed Tuesday at the Hanford site, crews started the process of filling the hole with sand and dirt Wednesday morning.

HANFORD, Wash. -- After a portion of tunnel collapsed Tuesday at the Hanford site, crews started the process of filling the hole with sand and dirt Wednesday morning.

"We want to get it done as quickly as we can but certainly not at the cost of safety," said Mark Heeter of the Department of Energy.

That's why crews are working very carefully to fix the tunnel- made of wood and concrete, topped with eight feet of soil.

Hanford officials say the crews are putting the dirt and sand in the portion of the tunnel that collapsed scoop by scoop. They’re also spraying water around the site to keep dust packed to the ground to prevent any airborne contamination.

Before all this Wednesday morning, crews built a gravel road Tuesday night leading up to the tunnel to make sure equipment could get to the site.

The Department of Energy says they expect crews to finish filling the hole later Wednesday night.

DOE confirms there are no reports of radiological contamination so far and the site is safe.

Hanford officials pulled non-essential workers Wednesday and didn't know if they would allow them to return Thursday.

"We don't know exactly what we're up against. We do in the sense that we're able to survey and continue to find there's no contamination, but when we look across the board we just decided it would be better to be kept away from there if they didn't need to be there just for a little bit longer," said Heeter.

DOE tells Action News they're being extremely cautious because the area crews are working on is next to a site that stores radioactive material.

Officials still don’t know what caused the tunnel to collapse.

"Once that's in there, we can't guarantee anything. All we can do is focus in today's effort which is to get this stabilized," added Heeter.

The Department of Energy says the tunnel was originally built during the Cold War.

It was used to store rail cars filled with contaminated equipment.

DOE says it has been sealed since the 1990's.

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