White powder found at Hanford deemed harmless

A white powder found during a recent annual inspection of the Hanford, Washington, REDOX plant was positively identified as sodium chloride, or salt.

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. Vice President Ty Blackford confirmed that the powder was, indeed, salt, Tri-CityHerald.com reports.

The suspicious powder was found in December during an inspection of the processing plant, which was shut down in 1967, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board reported in a weekly staff report.

Similar powders were spotted in previous inspections but never directly on the surveillance path, the staff report said, according to Tri-CityHerald.com.

Salt was present in the facility to neutralize the processing system following its closure in 1967. The salt now appears to be corroding the stainless steel process piping in the plant.

After the positive identification, workers are now allowed to return to the facility, clean it and finish surveillance at the plant.

REDOX, or the Reduction-Oxidation Plant, was the fourth plant built at Hanford to chemically process fuel irradiated at the site's reactors to remove plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons programs. In addition, it recovered uranium from the fuel to reuse it.