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Honeywell upgrades satisfy NRC

Staff report

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has advised officials at Honeywell Metropolis Works they have satisfied the terms of a 2012 order requiring modifications to protect the facility against major earthquakes and tornadoes.

The Metropolis, Ill., plant shut down in May 2012 when an NRC inspection determined that process equipment at Honeywell lacked adequate seismic restraints, supports and bracing to ensure "integrity during such events." Honeywell spent an estimated $40 million upgrading the facility and was allowed to reopen in June 2013.

 The NRC reviewed Honeywell's revised Integrated Safety Analysis last month and determined it was adequate, clearing the way for the lifting of the confirmatory order this week.

"The company has taken the necessary actions to protect the community and the environment, which was our original goal," said Victor McCree, the NRC's Region II administrator.

"Today's announcement that the NRC has closed the confirmatory order related to seismic upgrades at the Metropolis facility is a milestone for the facility and community," said Peter Dalpe, Honeywell spokesman. "During 2012 and 2013, Honeywell invested more than $40 million to reinforce the plant against strong earthquakes and tornadoes and comply with post-Fukushima standards and to ensure the safety of the plant, its employees and the surrounding community."

That investment preserved the 270 jobs, including 134 union positions, that would have been lost otherwise, Dalpe said.

Meanwhile, negotiations continued Thursday between Honeywell and United Steelworkers Local 7-699 on a new contract. The current three-year contract expires at midnight Aug. 1.

The Metropolis facility converts milled uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then enriched at other facilities to make fuel for commercial nuclear power reactors.

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