The crowd gathered at Metropolis Community Center May 1 had the opportunity to listen to the annual license performance review meeting held between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Honeywell Metropolis regarding the plant’s license to operate.
Jim Hickey, of the NRC, led the PowerPoint presentation, moderated the meeting and pointed out the NRC’s mission is to license and regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to protect public health and safety, promote the common defense and security and protect the environment.
The purpose of the Licensee Performance Review (LPR) is to provide an overview of licensee performance to NRC management, inform Honeywell and the public of the results of the LPR and to provide a basis for adjusting the inspection effort and focus of inspections at Honeywell.
Hickey pointed out Honeywell continues to conduct licensed activities safely and securely; protecting public health and the environment, pointing out one action remains — the NRC’s review of the revised Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) submitted to include upgrades. Hickey said the ISA has been given to the NRC and is currently under review.
Following Hickey’s presentation, the meeting was turned over to Honeywell for remarks, which began with Metropolis Plant Manager Jim Pritchett, who has been the plant manager since December. Prior to joining Honeywell, he had had 20 years of experience.
Pritchett’s first priority, as well as Honeywell’s, is safety. He also went on to say he is pleased and proud Honeywell has invested over $40 million in the Metropolis plant and has helped to secure 270 full-time jobs.
Pritchett then turned the floor over to Mark Wolf, Honeywell nuclear compliance director, who gave a presentation that outlined the specific upgrade work that has been done at the Metropolis plant. Wolf explained the plant has reduced the risk to the plant, employees and surrounding community by:
• Strengthening key buildings and equipment against seismic risk
• Reducing UF6 release risks
• Improving hydrofluoric acid (HF) storage on site
• Improving ability to withstand effects of strong tornados
• And, improving emergency response plan and process
According to the information Wolf presented, one of the key buildings upgraded was the Feed Material Building (FMB), which he pointed out included the replacement of 400 connections, 1400 bolts, 3500 linear feet of welding, which is the equivalent to the length of 20 football fields.
Wolf told the crowd tornado shields have been installed in critical areas, as well as guards and cages around key equipment and instruments.
In the area of HF handling upgrades, the presentation also pointed out the HF sourced for manufacturing processes directly from railcars, as needed, eliminating the use of storage tanks.
Wolf said railcars are a safer alternative, pointing out they have thicker walls, can handle five times more pressure and are designed to withstand start-stop stresses and rollovers. He also pointed out there are shut-off valves on railcars that activates automatically when seismic events are detected by ground sensors at the plant.
After Honeywell’s remarks, Hickey took the floor again to answer questions from the crowd, which included a question by Metropolis resident Steve Chaney, who questioned what kind of cylinders are located to the west side of the plant. Chaney had photos of the cylinders.
According to Hickey, part of the cylinders are empty and contain no material, while some of the other cylinders are 55 gallon drums that contain “yellow cake,” the first step in the process of conversion of Uranium.
Chaney questioned the radiation levels in the drums and asked why those drums would not be required to have some sort of cage or shield around them. Hickey explained the radiation levels emitted from the drums would be minimal and went on to say Honeywell is in compliance with their license in regard to the storage of the tanks.
However, Hickey said members of the public are able to petition the NRC to suggest changes or modifications to the license.
The full public meeting can be found on the Metropolis Planet’s You Tube channel at www.youtube.com/themetropolisplanet.