NRC Confirms Honeywell Needs Earthquake Upgrades
By WestKyStar Staff
METROPOLIS, IL - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Action Letter to Honeywell Metropolis Works, outlining actions the company has agreed to take before restarting its uranium conversion operations.
During an inspection that examined how the Metropolis facility would fare in a major earthquake or a tornado, the NRC concluded that a credible seismic event could result in a higher risk to the public than currently assumed. The inspection raised concerns that Honeywell may have underestimated the amount of uranium hexafluoride that could be released into the environment should the process equipment be damaged by such an event.
However, this issue does not currently impact the safety of the facility because it is shut down. In a shutdown configuration, a seismic event or a tornado would not result in a significant release of material.
“Honeywell has committed to the NRC that it will not resume operations until these safety concerns have been resolved,” said Victor McCree, the NRC’s Region II Administrator. “Ensuring the safety of the people who live near the plant and the workers at the facility must be our primary objective.”
Honeywell Metropolis Works takes milled uranium and converts it into uranium hexafluoride gas which is then enriched at other facilities in order to make fuel for commercial power reactors.