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The possible collapse of a second Hanford tunnel storing radioactive waste is both more likely than thought a year ago and the effects potentially more severe, according to Hanford officials.

The risk of failure, based on Department of Energy nuclear safety standards, has increased from “unlikely” to “anticipated,” and the potential severity has been increased from “low” to “moderate,” according to the ranking.

The severity of the possible collapse is still not ranked as “high,” but it would be a significant event with the potential for the airborne release of radioactive particles, said Dan Wood, chief operating officer of the CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., a Hanford contractor.

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