METROPOLIS, IL (KFVS) - A representative for the Honeywell manufacturing plant in Metropolis says that the plant could be closed for up to 15 months to upgrade the factory.
The plant has been closed since May after inspectors found damaged equipment.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission showed that upgrades were necessary to prepare for natural disasters.
During an inspection that examined how the facility would fare in a major earthquake or a tornado, the NRC concluded that a credible seismic event could result in a higher risk to the public than currently assumed. The inspection raised concerns that Honeywell may have underestimated the amount of uranium hexafluoride that could be released into the environment should the process equipment be damaged by such an event.
This issue does not currently impact the safety of the facility because it is shut down, according to the NRC.
In a shutdown configuration, a seismic event or a tornado would not result in a significant release of material.
Honeywell Metropolis Works takes milled uranium and converts it into uranium hexafluoride gas which is then enriched at other facilities in order to make fuel for commercial power reactors.
The plant could be closed for 12 to 15 months if the company decides they would need to complete the upgrades before restarting production.
The workforce will be reduced in half. Employees will be able to apply for openings at other Honeywell locations.The work force has been laid off since May 10. Those who are laid off are without health insurance.