RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) – Workers at a Washington state decommissioned nuclear site say they have intentionally contaminated groundwater to accelerate nuclear waste cleanup.

The Bellingham Herald reported Sunday that the Department of Energy began a soil-flushing project in May that could save workers from decades of cleanup efforts at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland.

Officials say the two-pipe system pushes water through already chromium-contaminated soil polluting groundwater.

The system then pumps out and cleans the newly contaminated groundwater before it can migrate to the Columbia River.

Officials say the system was shut down Aug. 13 after successful results.

Experts say chromium can cause cancer in people, and is harmful to aquatic river life.

Officials say Hanford was created during World War II and made plutonium for nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

Information from: The Bellingham Herald,