Honeywell, Commission, Agree Upgrades Should Begin
By WestKyStar Staff
METROPOLIS, IL - An agreement has been reached between Honeywell and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concerning upgrades that need to be made at the Metropolis facility- but that doesn't mean the plant is about to reopen.
Honeywell Metropolis has not been in operation since May 9, following a comprehensive safety inspection that found the facility would not fare as well during a natural disaster as was previously thought.
During the inspection, the commission identified two specific violations: Honeywell's Emergency Response Plan, originally submitted in 2005, failed to identify accident sequences related to credible seismic and tornadic events. Additionally, the plant's Integrated Safety Analysis Summary erroneously stated that the plant is designed to withstand significant earthquake(s) with no safety implications.
Specifically, the NRC says it's certain processing equipment that lacks seismic restraints, support, and bracing that would hold up during a tornado or earthquake. These items must be corrected. The commission says that any threat from the Metropolis facility would be of a chemical nature, rather than a radioactive nature.
The commission says that Honeywell was cooperative during the inspection process, and has been cooperating since then, so a Confirmatory Order has been issued that allows the company to begin making necessary modifications to the plant. Also, the company will not be given a Notice of Violation, and civil penalties will not be levied.
Discussion about modifications have been ongoing since July, and spokesman Peter Dalpe says design work is still in process. He adds that they hope to receive greater clarity from the NRC on the scope and parameters of the equipment upgrades, so a completion date, and possible restart of production have not yet been determined. Dalpe does estimate that the work could take between nine and twelve months.
The completed work will then be reviewed and inspected once again by the NRC. Spokesman Joey Ledford says "Honeywell cannot resume operations until we are confident the facility can operate safely, protecting the workers, local residents, and the environment."