Media started reporting about 9:30 am today on an emergency declared at Hanford nuclear site in Washington State, where hundreds of workers were in ‘take cover’ position after a tunnel in a plutonium finishing plant collapsed (e.g., CBC 9-May-2017).
The site is about 500 km southeast of Vancouver. The Hanford site is “one of the most dangerous, polluted sites” in the United States (Will Trump’s energy-secretary pick Rick Perry clean up Hanford nuclear site? Seattle Times, 19-Jan-2017).
“The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the United States federal government on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. The site has been known by many names, including: Hanford Project, Hanford Works, Hanford Engineer Works and Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project in Hanford, south-central Washington, the site was home to the B Reactor, the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world.Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the first nuclear bomb, tested at the Trinity site, and in Fat Man, the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan.” (Wikipedia)
CBC reported that this is the largest repository of nuclear waste in the United States.
How safe is Vancouver now and in the future? It is a topic Vancouver City Council might want to consider. Should municipal, provincial, and federal governments be actively studying the risks and advocating the relevant U.S. authorities for clean-up action.
Meanwhile, this dynamic map by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the air and volcanic ash flow scenario in the event of an eruption of Mount Baker, which is much closer to Vancouver. It is not exactly valid for the Hanford Site and Vancouver, but this kind of information would be helpful for emergency planning here.
Here is a link to another scenario for a hypothetical eruption today from Mount Saint Helens, south of Seattle.