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Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss Honeywell safety plans

Staff report

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public meeting May 1 to discuss its review of the Honeywell Metropolis Works uranium facility.

The meeting - set for 6 p.m. in the Metropolis Community Center, 900 W. 10th St. - will focus on the NRC's review of safety procedures at the plant from Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2013, according to Joey Ledford, NRC Region II spokesman. The discussion will include the areas of safety operations, radiological controls, facility support and other areas.

The Metropolis plant was shut down in May 2012 when an NRC inspection determined some of the plant's equipment and structures would not be able to withstand an earthquake or tornado damage that could potentially result in a release of uranium hexafluoride. Honeywell spent an estimated $40 million upgrading the facility and was allowed to reopen in June 2013.

At the time, members of the NRC panel highlighted particular measures including the strengthening of structural braces, vessel restraints and piping supports against strong seismic events, as well as adding additional tornado missile shields around the liquid uranium hexafluoride inventory.

"Honeywell has a clean safety record, although it has been an active (two-year) period for them," Ledford said. "We identified the need for them to make extensive modifications ... our presentation will be an assessment of how they performed in the safety arena."

Honeywell is on a two-year schedule of review by the NRC.

"Although we only do this overall review of the facility's performance every two years, our inspectors make frequent trips to the facility and have ongoing discussions with the company's management," according to NRC Regional II Administrator Victor McCree. "Those interactions help ensure safe facility operation that protects employees, people living nearby and the environment."

NRC staff will be available to answer questions from the public, according to Ledford.

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