The news of Honeywell’s restart came on the heels of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meeting held July 9 at the Metropolis Community Center where members of NRC and the Honeywell Regional Oversight Panel gave a PowerPoint presentation regarding the upgrades made at the plant. About 50 people attended the meeting.
Consisting of chairman Anthony Gody, vice chairman John Kinneman and members Mark Thaggard, Jim Hickey and Patricia Silva, the oversight panel’s purpose was: to implement the required regulatory oversight of the Honeywell Metropolis Works Facility; to ensure compliance and implementation of the commitments of the order of prior to authorization for restart; and advise the Region II regional administrator and the directors of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) and National System for Incident Reporting (NSIR) on the restart authorization decision.
An independent review was completed regarding Honeywell Metropolis Works’ readiness, as Rita Riley, project manager with NRC explained. Riley said a team of experts, both in-house and contract, were involved in the process.
Riley went over the details about the NRC’s Technical Evaluation Report (TER). Reviews were done in the following areas: risk-informed safety basis; seismic hazards; design of structures, systems and components; chemical consequences; and emergency plan.
According to the information Riley presented, after looking at all of the modifications, it was determined that they were appropriately designed and will perform beyond the design basis. In addition, the modifications will prevent releases as a result of seismic and tornado missile events and are protective of the health and safety of workers and the public.
NRC and Honeywell officials say safety — for employees and residents — is their first priority.
“Honeywell has made significant investments in Metropolis over the last five years, and especially during the past year,” wrote plant manager Larry Smith in a letter sent to Honeywell employees on July 9.
The shutdown of Honeywell’s Metropolis plant stemmed from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, which created a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukashima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Following that disaster, the NRC began a closer look at nuclear facilities in the United States.
In a recent press release, NRC Region II Administrator Victor McCree said: “Honeywell has appropriately enhanced the plant’s ability to withstand earthquakes and tornadoes.”
Before being completely clear, Honeywell has to file a revised safety analysis within six months to the NRC. Once that is done, the plant will no longer be under a confirmatory order.
The Honeywell plant takes milled uranium and converts it into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then enrichedat other facilities to make fuel for commercial power reactors.
Two 25-minute clips from the July 9 NRC meeting can be viewed on the Metropolis Planet’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/TheMetropolisPlanet.