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NRC presents Honeywell plant safety review results

BY DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

METROPOLIS, Ill. - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted a review Thursday of the Honeywell Metropolis Works uranium facility's response to safety issues identified during its latest two-year inspection period, making no additional recommendations.

The results of the NRC review, which covered 2012 and 2013, were announced at a public meeting at the Metropolis Community Center.

Jim Hickey, chief of the NRC inspection branch, outlined the procedures used during the review period. The Metropolis plant shut down in May 2012 when an inspection determined some of the plant's equipment and structures might not be able to withstand an earthquake or a tornado. Honeywell spent an estimated $40 million upgrading the facility and was allowed to reopen in June 2013.

According to Hickey, Honeywell continues to conduct licensed activities safely and securely, "protecting public health and the environment." Honeywell has revised its Integrated Safety Analysis related to the issues raised, and the NRC review of that documentation is expected to be completed in the near future.

In the upgrade, Honeywell strengthened key buildings and equipment against seismic risks and improved its emergency response and processes, according to Mark Wolf, director of nuclear compliance.

"At the end of the day, our goal was to ensure the safety of our employees, the community and the surrounding areas," he said.

The $40 million investment exceeded NRC license requirements and preserved more than 270 full-time jobs and hundreds of hours of local contractors, Wolf said.

Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel praised the NRC and Honeywell, calling them forthcoming about the operation of the plant.

"We want the safest facility money can buy," he said.

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.

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