Honeywell Not Restarting Production; Will Upgrade
By Bill Hughes
METROPOLIS, IL - Honeywell announced Wednesday that its Metropolis nuclear conversion facility will not restart production until they schedule upgrades that will make the plant able to withstand earthquakes and other disasters.
This announcement comes after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission identified updates to the facility following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima power plant in March 2011. The upgrades will make the plant able to withstand a major seismic event or tornado.
The Company does not anticipate that any suspension of operations or the cost of plant upgrades will have a negative impact on its previously issued earnings per share guidance range for 2012.
The NRC gave the plant a clean bill of health in May, as part of its License and Performance Review, saying that the plant was operating safely, but after discussions with the commission Wednesday, Honeywell committed to upgrading the facility, which could take 12-15 months and cut the workforce by about 50 percent. The company said that they will not restart production until reaching an agreement with the NRC on the nature and timing of the upgrades.
Spokesman Peter Dalpe said that if the NRC recommends doing the work immediately, the current workforce reduction and shutdown will continue. If the NRC recommends doing the work at a later date, the union workers could be called back temporarily. Dalpe said that some of the needed upgrades have already begun, but there is a significant amount of additional work needed.
As for when they will know the scope and timing of the work, Dalpe said in an email, "We will be having ongoing discussions with the NRC in the coming week or weeks, rather than one set meeting. I can’t predict a time for a final decision, but our goal is to come to a decision as soon as possible so we can have clarity in our planning and, of course, clarity for the employees."
Dalpe said that the local USW union has been notified by the Human Resources Department from Honeywell, and someone spoke to workers at the facility about the decision.