RICHLAND, Wash. — The state of Washington has levied a $16,000 fine for failure to identify a white powder on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The penalty is against the U.S. Department of Energy and its cleanup contractor at the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant.

The Washington state Department of Ecology assessed the penalty after trying for more than a year to get the powder identified.

Before it was closed in the 1980s, the PUREX plant made most of the plutonium for the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The Ecology Department says the white powder was first discovered in 2015, and was still unidentified as recently as April. The agency says that if the powder is a dangerous waste, it must be cleaned up.