NRC inspecting Honeywell's Metropolis plant after chemical leak - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

NRC inspecting Honeywell's Metropolis plant after chemical leak


The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has launched a special inspection into the Metropolis, Illinois Honeywell plant after a chemical leak reported on Saturday, August 1.

The Metropolis plant went on Alert on Saturday for two hours beginning at 5:55 p.m. after workers reported a uranium hexafluride (HF6) leak during maintenance. No injuries have been reported as result of the leak and Honeywell officials reported to the NRC that no chemicals left the plant site.

The plant's safety measures were activated and large water sprayers poured onto the leak. Honeywell officials told the NRC monitoring devices at site reported no radiological release beyond the regulatory limits. The leak happened on the sixth floor of the plant's Feed Materials Building.

Workers were installing a valve that later leaked, according to NRC officials.

An NRC inspector arrived at the Metropolis facility on Sunday from Atlanta to begin collecting information. The special inspection will attempt to find out how the leak happened, if the company followed proper notification procedures, if the chemical remained within the plant's boundaries and if the plant's detection sampling system performed adequately. The NRC will also review  corrective procedures the plant has or is planning to take.

“This special inspection will analyze all the details of this incident,” Victor McCree said, the NRC’s Region II administrator. “While no workers were affected and there was no offsite release, any release of uranium hexafluoride is a potentially serious event.”

Officials from the Honywell Metropolis plant released the following statement regarding the incident:

"Honeywell takes this incident seriously and is cooperating fully with the NRC inspection. The NRC and other regulatory agencies were alerted to   the incident promptly and the plant’s emergency equipment and response teams worked as designed to contain and stop the leak without injuries. The company has made numerous improvements to its emergency response procedures over the last several years and continues to invest significantly in upgrades to the plant, including more than $60 million in projects that directly support health, safety and the environment. The company is committed to the safe operation of this and its other manufacturing facilities.”

The inspection is expected to last on week and a full report should be made available withing the next 45 days, according to NRC officials.

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