HERMISTON - Officials didn't say what it was, but the "suspicious item" found Thursday afternoon at the Umatilla Chemical Depot wasn't a bomb.
In fact, depot officials avoided even using the word, even though all workers at the depot's construction site were sent home. More than two hours of work were lost because of the precautionary evacuation. Emergency officials stayed at the depot.
"I would not use the word 'bomb,'" said depot spokeswoman Mary Binder at a meeting Thursday night. An Army bomb squad from Yakima examined the item found near the incinerator plant and determined that it "lacked any explosive components."
This is the 12th such incident this year. Earlier this year, the depot received several bomb threats via phone and radio, and a suspicious package was found at the depot. The FBI has been investigating the incidents and hasn't said if it has solved the case. However, no such incidents have happened since late April.
The depot is constructing a chemical weapons incinerator that will one day destroy some 3,717 tons of chemical weapons. The project is now more than two-thirds complete.