A woman left about 50 grams of a potentially explosive acid at a hazardous waste collection, triggering road closures and concerns.
Shortly before 10 a.m., an unknown person dropped off a box of laboratory-grade chemicals at the Benton County event at the road department shop on Wiser Parkway, near Cottonwood Elementary school, said Shyanne Faulconer, a Benton County spokeswoman.
Employees from the contractor handling the event asked the woman to stick around as they checked the contents of the box.
"There is a list of materials that we can accept and a list of materials that we can't," Faulconer said. "Any chemicals that are brought in have to be reviewed by a chemist to make sure they're acceptable to take."
What employees didn't expect to find was 50-gram container that held picric acid. Normally kept wet, it began to dry out and form crystals, said Lt. Tracy Baker, Benton County Fire District 1's public information officer.
This is when the acid, originally used as an explosive, becomes the most volatile.
Benton County Fire District 1 along with the Benton County Sheriff's Office shut down Wiser Parkway between Cottonwood Drive and Badger Loop.
People within a half-mile radius of the shop were asked to either stay inside or leave. This included an RV park that is right across the street from the shop.
Richland police's bomb squad was called, and it disposed of the acid in a hole at the shop because it was safer than attempting to move it.
It's still not clear where the chemicals came from or whether the woman knew about the potential explosion she tempted.
Benton County officials said the collection event would be rescheduled.