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‘Suspicious device’ found near Moses Lake manufacturing facility

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 27, 2018

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office said a “suspicious device” was found in a car Thursday afternoon near a manufacturing facility in Moses Lake.

In a pair of alerts around 4 p.m., the sheriff’s office said a bomb squad was en route from Richland after the device was found during a routine traffic stop outside the perimeter fence of the REC Silicon facility.

The sheriff’s office said there was a heavy police presence in the area, adding that the scene was “under control.” It said most employees had left the facility at the end of a shift at 3:30 p.m.

Sharon Palmerton, a spokeswoman for REC Silicon, said the facility was not evacuated, but the sheriff’s office told the company which exits employees should take to avoid the area where the device was found.

REC Silicon, one of the largest employers in Grant County, was spun off from a larger Norwegian corporation, REC Group, which makes solar panels.

REC Silicon, which also has a manufacturing facility in Butte, said earlier this year its business was damaged by the United States’ trade war with China and retaliatory Chinese tariffs on polysilicon materials.

In July, the company laid off about 40 percent of its Moses Lake workforce, impacting about 100 employees, according to news outlet iFiber One. At the time, the company warned that it could be forced to close the Moses Lake plant if the trade dispute was not alleviated.

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