Current Issues: Operating Uranium Conversion/Enrichment Plants - USA
(last updated 8 Dec 2023)
> See also Current Issues for
Criticality and operational safety most common areas for reported events at U.S. nuclear fuel facilities
> View here
For the first time in 15 years, the U.S. has declassified and released data on its inventory of highly-enriched uranium (HEU).
The data is as of September 30, 2013.
The fact sheet from the White House Press Secretary's office says "from 1996 to 2013, U.S. HEU inventories decreased from 740.7 metric tons to 585.6 metric tons. This reflects a reduction of over 20 percent."
Further reductions in the inventory are "ongoing" according to the news release.
Some of the released data indicates that, of the inventory on September 30, 2013, 499.4 metric tons was for national security and non-national security programs like nuclear weapons and naval propulsion. The remaining amount, "41.6 metric tons was available for potential down-blend to low enriched uranium or, if not possible, disposal as low-level waste, and 44.6 metric tons was in spent reactor fuel."
(Voice of America April 1, 2016)
> View FACT SHEET: Transparency in the U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium Inventory , The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Mar. 31, 2016
> See also: Downblending of U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) for commercial reactor use
USEC signs multi-year contract with Russia's TENEX for low enriched uranium supply
USEC Inc. has signed a multi-year contract with Russia's Techsnabexport (TENEX) for the 10-year supply of low enriched uranium (LEU).
Under the terms of the contract, the supply of LEU to USEC will begin in 2013 and ramp up until it reaches a level in 2015 that is approximately one-half the level currently supplied by TENEX to USEC under the Megatons to Megawatts program with the mutual option to increase the quantities up to the same level as that program. Unlike the Megatons to Megawatts program, the quantities supplied under the new contract will come from Russia's commercial enrichment activities rather than from downblending of excess Russian weapons material.
(USEC Mar. 23, 2011)
Trade deal signed on import of Russian enriched uranium to the U.S.
U.S. nuclear power reactors will be able to obtain more supplies of Russian enriched uranium for fuel, under a trade deal signed by the two countries on Feb. 1, 2008.
The agreement allows Russia to boost exports to the United States while minimizing any disruption to the United States' domestic enrichment industry.
The deal is allowing for sales of Russian enriched uranium directly to U.S. utilities. Before the agreement, such direct transactions were not permitted.
For years, the U.S. government has restricted Russian uranium shipments, fearing Russia would dump uranium in the U.S. market and financially hurt the major American uranium supplier, USEC Inc.
A spokesman for the Russia's Atomic Energy Agency said with the new trade deal "the volumes of direct deliveries of uranium enrichment services may total 20 percent of the market".
(Reuters Feb. 1, 2008)
Federal Register: February 11, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 28) p. 7705-7708
(download full text )
U.S. DOC releases draft agreement allowing for limited uranium imports from Russia
The Department of Commerce and the Russian Federation's Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) have initialed a draft amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation (Suspension
Agreement). The proposed amendment will allow the Russian Federation
to export Russian uranium products to the U.S. market in accordance with the export limits and other terms detailed in the amendment. The Department is now inviting interested parties to comment on the text of the proposed amendment.
Comments must be submitted within thirty (30) days from December 4, 2007.
Federal Register: December 4, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 232) p. 68124-68127
(download full text )
According to the draft agreement, the annual export limits are as follows:
*) calculated, based on LEU product assay of 4.4% and tails assay of 0.3%; conversion loss 0.5%
|Unat contained *)|
| Separative Work contained *)|
The bulk of the deliveries is to start in 2014, when the US-Russia HEU agreement for the deliveries of LEU downblended from Russian nuclear weapons uranium will have ended. As the US-Russia HEU agreement comprises the annual downblending of approx. 29 t HEU into approx. 910 t LEU (at 4.4% assay, containing 5.5 million SWU), the new deliveries will substitute only about half of the annual deliveries made under the US-Russia HEU agreement.
Russia will have sufficient enrichment capacity available from 2011, as the re-enrichment agreements with Urenco and Eurodif expire in 2009-2010, thereby setting free an annual capacity of 2.58 million SWU. In addition, from 2014, no more blendstock enrichment will be required for the downblending of HEU.
It is, however, unclear, where Russia will procure the necessary natural uranium, as Russia's domestic production was just 3400 t U in 2006.
Exports of Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) to the US should not be covered under a Commerce Department-imposed restriction on Russian "uranium products" sent to the US, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) said September 26, 2007.
In its opinion, the CIT cited a series of cases involving LEU exports to the US by French enricher Eurodif. According to the decisions in those cases, enrichment is a service, rather than a good, and therefore not subject to the relevant US import duties.
The US government, joined by USEC, had initially argued that those decisions
did not apply to the restriction on Russian material. But, as the court
decision put it, the government now "does not oppose a remand" -- a directive to Commerce to rewrite the restriction -- to exclude LEU from the scope of its review. In issuing its remand for "re-determination," the CIT said the government's acknowledgment was "well-founded, because Commerce must abide by the Eurodif decisions."
(Platts Sep. 28, 2007)
> Download Slip Op. 07-143, Techsnabexport v. United States, United States Court of International Trade, Sep. 26, 2007 (PDF)
U.S. ITC votes against Russian uranium imports to U.S.
On July 18, 2006, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that terminating the suspended investigation on imports of uranium from Russia would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time.
As a result of the Commission's affirmative determination and the Department of Commerce's recent affirmative finding, the existing suspension agreement will remain in place.
On March 3, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the U.S. Court of International Trade's 2003 decision regarding subsidies for Eurodif, holding that overpayment for uranium enrichment services by foreign government entities cannot constitute a countervailable subsidy. (U.S. enricher USEC had alleged that French utility EdF had paid Eurodif greater than adequate compensation for the enrichment of uranium.)
> Download March 3, 2005, Court Opinion 04-1209, Eurodif S.A., et al. v. U.S., et al. (PDF)
On February 28, 2005, DOC preliminarily determined that the total countervailable subsidy rate for Urenco for 2003 is 0.00 percent ad valorem.
Federal Register: March 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 43) p. 10986-10989
(download full text )
On February 28, 2005, DOC preliminarily determined that the total countervailable subsidy rate for Eurodif/COGEMA for 2003 is 1.23 percent ad valorem.
Federal Register: March 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 43) p. 10989-10992
(download full text )
On Feb. 28, 2005, DOC preliminarily determined that a dumping margin of 21.71 percent exists for Eurodif/COGEMA for 2003.
Federal Register: March 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 43) p. 10957-10962 (download full text )
On Sep. 29, 2004, DOC amended the final results of the first antidumping duty administrative review of LEU from France, decreasing COGEMA/Eurodif's weighted-average margin from 5.43 percent to 4.56 percent.
Federal Register: September 29, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 188) p. 58128-58129
(download full text )
On July 26, 2004, DOC finally determined that a weighted-average dumping margin of 5.43% (rather than 5.34% in the preliminary determination) exists for COGEMA/Eurodif for the period of July 13, 2001, through January 31, 2003.
Federal Register: August 3, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 148) p. 46501-46508
(download full text )
On June 30, 2004, DOC finally determined ad valorem subsidy rates for Eurodif/COGEMA of 3.63 percent ad valorem for 2001, and 0.71 percent ad valorem for 2002.
Federal Register: July 7, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 129) p. 40871-40873 (download full text )
On June 30, 2004, DOC finally determined ad valorem subsidy rates for Urenco Group of 1.57 percent ad valorem for 2001, and 1.47 percent ad valorem for 2002.
Federal Register: July 7, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 129) p. 40869-40871 (download full text )
On January 29, 2004, DOC preliminarily determined that the total estimated net countervailable subsidy rate for Eurodif is 6.54 percent ad valorem for 2001 and 3.03 percent ad valorem for 2002.
Federal Register: February 5, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 24) p. 5502-5505
(download full text )
On January 29, 2004, DOC preliminarily determined that the total estimated net
countervailable subsidy rate for Urenco Group Ltd. is 1.66 percent ad valorem for 2001 and 1.40 percent ad valorem for 2002.
Federal Register: February 5, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 24) p. 5498-5502
(download full text )
On January 20, 2004, Department of Commerce issued a Notice of Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, indicating a Weighted-Average Margin for COGEMA/Eurodif of 5.34%.
Federal Register: January 27, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 17) p. 3883-3887 (download full text )
On September 16, 2003, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) found that DOC's Final Remand Determination of June 23, 2003, is unlawful and reversed it.
> Download United States Court of International Trade Slip Opinion 03-121, USEC Inc. v. United States, 09/16/2003 (PDF)
On Mar. 25, 2003, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) overturned Department of Commerce (DOC) decisions that the enrichers had violated U.S. trade laws in their sales of enrichment services in the U.S. The court vacated DOC's final determinations to slap duties on Urenco and Cogema SWU sales in the U.S. (Platts, Mar. 25, 2003)
> Download United States Court of International Trade
Slip Opinion 03-34, USEC Inc. v. United States, 03/25/2003 (PDF)
On Jan. 22, 2002, the US International Trade Commission approved 32.10 percent duties on enriched uranium imports from France while it approved 2.23 percent tariffs on enriched uranium from Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands. (AFX Jan. 22, 2002)
> View US ITC vote (Jan. 22, 2002)
On Dec. 14, 2001, the US Commerce Department found that French uranium enrichment company Eurodif, had sold its services in the US at almost 20 per cent below fair market price, but virtually cleared UK-based Urenco Group of dumping in the US market. (Financial Times Dec. 15, 2001)
Federal Register: December 21, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 246):
Federal Register: January 3, 2002 (Vol.67, No.2), p.344-345:
> Import Administration, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
(HALEU = Low-enriched uranium with an assay of the fissile uranium isotope U-235 greater than 5 and less than 20 weight-%)
(LEU+ = Low-enriched uranium with an assay of the fissile uranium isotope U-235 greater than 5 and less than 10 weight-%)
Plan announced for HALEU Lightbridge Pilot Fuel Fabrication Facility project in Piketon (Ohio)
> View here
U.S. DOE issues request for proposals for HALEU deconversion services
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a request for proposals (RFP) for deconversion services to help establish a reliable domestic supply of fuels for advanced reactors using high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) -- a crucial material needed to develop and deploy advanced reactors in the United States.
DOE plans to award one or more contracts to deconvert HALEU as uranium hexafluoride gas to various chemical forms, such as metal or oxide, used to fabricate fuels required by many advanced reactor developers. The deconverted material will be stored until there is a need to ship it to a fuel fabricator or other end user.
DOE plans to issue a second RFP later this year, which focuses on acquiring, storing, and transporting enriched uranium hexafluoride gas to the deconverters.
(DOE Office of Nuclear Energy Nov. 28, 2023)
> View: HALEU Deconversion Services RFP , Nov. 28, 2023
ASP Isotopes Inc. announces HALEU Laser Enrichment Plant project
> View here
Production starts at Centrus HALEU centrifuge enrichment plant
> View here
U.S. Senate approves bill establishing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) demonstration projects program
On July 27, 2023, U.S. Senate aggreed to an amendment "To require the Secretary of Energy to establish a Nuclear Fuel Security Program, expand the American Assured Fuel Supply Program, establish an HALEU for Advanced Nuclear Reactor Demonstration Projects Program, and submit a report on a civil nuclear credit program, and to enhance programs to build workforce capacity to meet critical mission needs of the Department of Energy."
> View: Vote Summary
DOE issues Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Availability Program Activities
> View here
Framatome requests NRC approval of increase of enrichment values to 8% for nuclear fuel shipped in TN-B1 containers
> View here
U.S. DOE awards US$ 150 million for HALEU enrichment at American Centrifuge plant (Ohio)
> See here
GNF and Terra Power announce Natrium HALEU Fuel Facility Project (North Carolina)
> See here
DOE seeks sources for procurement of HALEU
The U.S. Department of Energy (Department or DOE), Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), is seeking information and sources for a potential procurement activity to acquire high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). The purpose of this Sources Sought Notice is to determine the interest and feasibility of both large and small businesses to produce HALEU.
Ultimately the Department would consider purchasing HALEU as soon as possible in annual amounts of 25 metric tons uranium (MTU).
Submittals are due by Oct. 28, 2022, 5 pm (EST)
> Access: SAM.GOV (Search for Notice ID: HALEU1014)
Urenco USA intends to seek exemption for use of DN30 transport package for UF6 enriched up to 10 wt% U-235 (LEU+)
> View here
U.S. Congress allocates $700 million to DOE to develop domestic HALEU supply chain
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 allocates $700 million in funding to the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a domestic High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) supply chain.
> Access: H.R. 5376 - Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 , 117th Congress, Aug. 7, 2022
Framatome receives NRC approval to transport nuclear fuel enriched to 8%
> View here
Kairos Power plans to build TRISO HALEU fuel fabrication facility at Oak Ridge (Tennessee)
> View here
DOE issues Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Planning for Establishment of a Program To Support the Availability of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU)
Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Planning for Establishment of a Program To Support the Availability of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) for Civilian Domestic Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercial Use:
The U.S Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) is issuing this RFI to invite input on the planning for establishment of a DOE HALEU Availability Program and to gather information to consider in preparing the required report to Congress describing actions proposed to be carried out by DOE under the program. The Energy Act of 2020 authorized the Department to establish and carry out, through the Office of Nuclear Energy, a program to support the availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use.
Written comments and information are requested on or before February 14, 2022 (comment period extended).
> Federal Register Volume 86, Number 237 (Tuesday, December 14, 2021) p. 71055-71058 (download full text )
> Federal Register Volume 87, Number 5 (Friday, January 7, 2022) p. 950-951 (download full text )
> Access: Document ID DOE_FRDOC_0001-4309
Preliminary design of TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility completed
> View here
Current regulations not appropriate for security of High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) production and use, DOE finds
> View here
Approval of DN30-X package design for transport of high assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) hexafluoride
> View here
High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication at BWXT Lynchburg nuclear fuel plant (Virginia)
> View here
MPs question DOE's contract with Centrus Energy subsidiary for HALEU fuel fabrication system
> View here
Urenco USA: High assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) unit project (New Mexico)
> View here
High assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) production at American Centrifuge enrichment plant (Ohio)
> View here
DOE proposal for the use of DOE-owned High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Stored at INL (Idaho)
DOE issues Final Environmental Assessment for the use of DOE-owned High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at INL
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has determined that using DOE-owned high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) stored at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will not have a significant impact on the environment and is an important tool for advancing safe, economical, low carbon nuclear energy.
In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), DOE has issued a final Environmental Assessment for Use of DOE-Owned High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at INL (DOE/EA-2087).
Based on the analysis in the environmental assessment and after consideration of public comments received on the draft environmental assessment, DOE has determined that using DOE-owned HALEU currently stored at INL to fabricate fuel at INL's Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) and possibly also the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC) to support initiatives by U.S. companies to develop and deploy new reactor technologies will not result in a significant impact on the environment.
> View: DOE release Jan. 17, 2019 .
> Download: Environmental Assessment for Use of DOE-Owned High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at Idaho National Laboratory, Final , DOE/EA-2087, January 2019 · alternate source (7.9MB PDF)
DOE invites public comment on Draft Environmental Assessment for the use of DOE-owned High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at INL
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) invites the public to review and comment on a draft environmental assessment for a proposal to fabricate fuel at Idaho National Laboratory's Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC) and/or the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC) to support efforts by U.S. companies to develop and deploy new reactor technologies.
Under requirements of an Environmental Impact Statement performed in 2000, DOE uses an electrorefiner at MFC to refine and down-blend spent fuel that contains highly-enriched uranium material generated decades ago in the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II). This produces high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) that is currently stored at INL. DOE proposes expanding capabilities at MFC and INTEC to convert this metallic HALEU into fuel for research and development purposes. HALEU contains a higher enrichment (by percentage) of uranium-235 -- a fissile isotope in nuclear fuel that produces energy -- than fuel used in the current fleet of U.S. power reactors. Conventional light water reactors (LWRs) use low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, (3 to 5 percent uranium-235) while HALEU contains between 5 and 20 percent.
Currently, there are no commercial facilities in the U.S. immediately capable of producing HALEU, and several advanced reactor designers have expressed interest in using HALEU fuel with their designs to achieve higher efficiencies and longer core lifetimes.
The federal government proposes fabricating approximately 10 metrics tons of HALEU nuclear reactor fuel, to support near-term research, development and demonstration needs of private-sector developers and government agencies, including advanced reactor developers.
Submit comments by November 30, 2018.
> View: DOE release Nov. 1, 2018
> Download: Environmental Assessment for Use of DOE-Owned High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium Stored at Idaho National Laboratory, Draft , DOE-EA-2087, U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office, October 2018 (??PDF - "Secure Connection Failed") ·
Alternate source (1.8MB PDF)
NRC License No. SUB-526, Docket No.
Converdyn · Honeywell Metropolis
Aerial view: Google Maps · MSRMaps
NRC Facility Info (Decommissioning)
Uranium hexafluoride leak at Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant
"On 09/02/2023, Honeywell declared a 'Plant Emergency' at 0815 CDT and upgraded to an 'Alert' at 0835 CDT in accordance with the Honeywell Emergency Response Plan due to a uranium hexafluoride leak on the kinney pump system."
(NRC Event Notification Report for September 05, 2023, Event Number: 56711 )
> Download: NRC release Sep. 5, 2023
Uranium hexafluoride release at Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant
"On the first floor of the Feed Materials Building at approximately 1530 CDT on 06/21/2023 while performing cylinder filling operations, a visual indicator of material was identified and operators initiated mitigating actions in accordance with site operating procedures. It was determined that a remotely operated valve closing mechanism at the number 4 fill spot failed to close a UF6 cylinder valve. The cylinder valve was then closed manually by operations personnel. Based on preliminary observations, the licensee does not believe that regulatory limits were exceeded."
(NRC Event Notification Report for June 23, 2023, Event Number: 56586 )
> Download: 30-Day Written Follow-Up Report , July 21, 2023 (PDF)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun a special inspection at the Honeywell uranium conversion facility in Metropolis, Illinois, to assess a June 21 event where safety equipment failed to function during cylinder-filling operations.
Plant workers were filling a cylinder with uranium hexafluoride -- known as UF6 -- when they noticed a small amount of material escaping from a connection point. The workers followed plant procedures to remotely activate the valve closing device to stop the operation. When one of the remote valves failed to close, a worker closed it manually.
Honeywell reported the event as required by the NRC and suspended all UF6 cylinder filling while it investigates the incident. Honeywell also reported that plant personnel were wearing appropriate protective equipment during the event.
(NRC News Release June 28, 2023 )
> Download: Inspection Report , Aug. 9, 2023
"Specifically, the licensee failed to ensure the reliability and availability of Plant Features and Procedures (PFAP) 82 safety control, which is a remotely operated valve to mitigate a release of UF6. The closure arm for PFAP 82 was inadequately designed and maintained such that it failed to close the UF6 cylinder valve on fill spot #4 during a release of UF6. This failure resulted in making a high consequence event 'unlikely' instead of 'highly unlikely.'"
(NRC Inspection Report and Apparent Violation, Sep. 14, 2023 )
Uranium hexafluoride release at Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant
According to a press release from Honeywell, at approximately 9:08 a.m. Monday (June 12) there was a release of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) at the facility.
According to Massac County EMA director Brian Horn, a reported 12 people were treated on the scene and "there was no immediate threat to the public."
(Paducah Sun June 14, 2023)
[The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security's Office of Nuclear Safety] says it did not observe measurable increases in radioactivity in the area surrounding the Honeywell Metropolis Works facility after a uranium hexafluoride release was reported at the plant earlier this month.
(WPSD June 29, 2023)
DOE to award conversion contract for strategic uranium reserve to Converdyn
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) plans to award Converdyn a five-year, sole-source contract to convert triuranium octoxide (U3O8) into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) as part of a new federal uranium stockpiling program.
(Defense Daily Jan. 3, 2023)
[The plant is currently mothballed, but restart of operation is planned by early 2023, see below.]
> See also: Creation of a uranium reserve for nuclear weapons activities
Fire at mothballed Metropolis uranium conversion plant
On 10/13/2022 at 1725 CDT, the licensee declared an Alert due to a fire in a laboratory building under renovation. The licensee contacted local Fire and Emergency Medical Service who responded and extinguished the fire. There was no offsite release of radiological material.
(NRC Event Notification Report for October 14, 2022, Event Number: 56161 )
Mothballed Metropolis uranium conversion plant to resume operations after 5-year hiatus in 2023
Honeywell is gearing up to reopen the Metropolis Works plant in Metropolis, Illinois -- the U.S.'s sole uranium conversion facility -- and restart production of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) by early 2023.
The Charlotte, North Carolina–based global technology giant told POWER in a statement on Feb. 9 it has communicated to employees and officials its intent to reopen the facility, which it idled in early 2018 owing to slack demand for UF6, a basic component of enriched nuclear fuel used in commercial nuclear power reactors.
(Power Magazine Feb. 9, 2021)
> Download: Honeywell start up notification to NRC, Feb. 19, 2021 (PDF)
Orano's Malvési (France) conversion plant to profit from suspension of operation at ConverDyn's Metropolis plant (Illinois)
> View here
Uranium hexafluoride contamination class action filed against Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant
A class action federal lawsuit has been filed in Metropolis, Illinois, against Honeywell International for uranium hexafluoride (UF6).
The federal complaint alleges that "Exposure to this radioactive and toxic mixture in the environment through human pathways can cause grave bodily injury and has created a need for a mitigation/abatement program to protect the public from further risk of being harmed by Honeywell's tortious contamination of their properties."
(Huntington News May 24, 2018)
(Illinois Southern District Court: Steward et al v. Honeywell International, Inc., Case 3:18-cv-01124)
On Feb. 13, 2018, ConverDyn sent NRC three applications for the export of uranium ore concentrate for conversion to UF6 over a period of five years. Two of them include further enrichment of the UF6:
Operations at Metropolis conversion plant - only uranium conversion plant in the U.S. - to be suspended due to depressed market situation
Honeywell has announced plans to temporarily halt production at its Metropolis facility, and will be eliminating 170 full-time positions at the plant.
In a press release, the company cites decreased worldwide demand for UF6 as the main reason for the decision. The facility will reportedly maintain limited operation to allow for a possible future restart should business conditions improve, but a company spokesperson says demand for UF6 is unlikely to increase before 2020.
The company partially blames the recent Fukushima disaster in Japan for the recent downturn in worldwide demand for UF6.
(West Kentucky Star Nov. 20, 2017)
By letter dated Jan. 11, 2018, Honeywell notified the NRC of the planned "Ready Idle" Status.
> Download Honeywell letter Jan. 11, 2018 (PDF)
Yellow Cake spills from damaged drum shipped from Cameco's Smith Ranch in situ leach mine to Metropolis conversion facility
> View here
NRC approves 40-year license renewal for - currently mothballed - Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant:
> Download: NRC news release , Mar, 25, 2020 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 85, Number 73 (Wednesday, April 15, 2020) p. 21031-21032 (download full text )
> Access: License renewal (Amendment 14 and Safety Evaluation Report) , March 24, 2020
NRC issues environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for 40-year license renewal of - currently mothballed - Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant:
> Federal Register Volume 84, Number 200 (Wednesday, October 16, 2019) p. 55339-55341 (download full text )
> Download: Environmental Assessment , Oct. 2019 (31.1MB PDF)
NRC invites comment on draft environmental assessment (EA) and draft finding
of no significant impact (FONSI) for 40-year license renewal of - currently mothballed - Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant:
Comments must be filed no later than November 30, 2018.
> Federal Register Volume 83, Number 211 (Wednesday, October 31, 2018) p. 54787-54789 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2017-0143
NRC releases favourable Draft Environmental Assessment for 40-year license renewal of - currently mothballed - Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant:
"Based on the information provided in this draft EA, the NRC staff preliminarily concludes that the proposed action - the renewal of Honeywell's license for operations at the MTW for a period of 40 years - would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment."
> Download: Draft Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Renewal of Source Material License SUB–526 Metropolis Works Uranium Conversion Facility , Oct. 2018 (25MB PDF)
NRC announces opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene regarding license renewal for Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant:
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering an application for the renewal of source materials license, SUB-526, from Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell), for its Metropolis Works facility, located in Metropolis, Illinois.
In its February 8, 2017, license renewal application, Honeywell requests a renewed license term of 40 years.
A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene must be filed by August 18, 2017.
> Federal Register Volume 82, Number 116 (Monday, June 19, 2017) p. 27880-27882 (download full text )
> Download License Renewal Application, Feb. 8, 2017
> Access Docket ID NRC-2017-0143
NRC issues Notice of Violation to Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant for failure to prevent leakage from shipping container
"[...] on January 10, 2017, the licensee did not conduct authorized activities in
accordance with the statements, representations, and conditions in the License Application to prevent leakage of radioactive material from the shipping trailer (or conveyance). Specifically, the licensee failed to conduct process operations in accordance with the approved procedure for the inspection and preparation of calcined recovered ore (CRO) drums prior to shipment. The failure to inspect the condition of the drums and place them in over packs in accordance with the procedure resulted in leakage of radioactive material while in transit to a recipient in the state of Utah."
> See also: Leaking barrels with alternate feed material originating from Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant arrive at White Mesa mill
Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant reduces workforce due to depressed market situation
Honeywell is reducing production capacity and cutting 22 jobs at their Metropolis plant due to ongoing challenges in the nuclear industry.
Honeywell issued a release Tuesday (Jan. 10) citing international challenges and an oversupply of uranium hexafluoride - or UF6 prompted the reduction. A portion of the plant's contractor team will also be reduced.
(WKMS Jan. 10, 2017)
NRC issues four Notices of Violation to Honeywell in connection with contamination found at Metropolis conversion plant after rain storm
The NRC is concerned of an event during the inspection period whereby radioactive material
was identified by the NRC in a previously licensee surveyed area that was being prepared for
unrestricted release. The licensee subsequently identified that the radioactive material was
transported via a rain storm event from an adjacent survey unit. This issue resulted in a
violation of NRC requirements:
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation, Nov. 27, 2015 (174k PDF)
- on or about August 30, 2015, the licensee failed to prevent storm water from entering excavated area LSA 02-01. Specifically, storm water transported 15 radiologically contaminated items from LSA 05-04 to LSA 02-01.
- the licensee failed to establish adequate procedures implementing the requirements of this PQP (Project Quality Plan) that apply to its work. Specifically, HDP-PO-FSS-700 did not address licensee actions if a rain event occurred and water and/or sediment could have entered previously Final Status Surveyed area.
- on May 29, 2015, the licensee did not perform a 100 percent GWS of LSA 10-01 and 10-02 of the excavated surfaces that were included in the survey unit, as documented in HEM-15-52, dated May 29, 2015.
- on September 30, 2015, the licensee failed to survey as close as possible to the ground surface. Specifically, the licensee was performing gamma walk-over surveys of LSA 11-01 and the survey meter detector distance to the ground surface was not adjusted when surveying a sloped area.
Semi truck carrying uranium ore concentrate catches fire near Honeywell conversion plant
A semi truck caught on fire at the Honeywell Plant in Metropolis, IL Sunday (Sep. 20) evening. The truck was transporting uranium at the time.
Honeywell spokesman Peter Dalpe released the statement below.
"The tractor or cab part of a tractor trailer that was delivering natural uranium ore [?!] caught on fire in front of Honeywell Metropolis facility Sunday evening. Local firefighters responded and extinguished the fire. There were no reported injuries to the driver and there are no reports that the fire breached the trailer. Firefighters indicated the fire apparent started in the engine compartment of tractor.
The truck was not in the facility itself and there was no danger to the operations. [...]"
(WPSD Sep. 20, 2015)
UF6 leak at Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant causes emergency alert
The Honeywell plant in Metropolis experienced a leak of UF6, or uranium hexafluoride, on Saturday (Aug. 1).
Honeywell spokesman Peter Dalpe said at about 6 p.m. Saturday the plant had declared a plant alert and notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of a UF6 leak. All employees were accounted for and there were no reported injuries, Dalpe said.
The plant activated its emergency response procedures and emergency teams responded. There was no evidence of off-site impact as of Saturday night.
Around 8 p.m., Dalpe said plant personnel confirmed the leak had been stopped and went into "plant emergency status" which Dalpe said is the lowest level of alert at the plant.
For a short time following the initial alert of a leak, Dalpe said there was a "shelter-in-place" alert for the surrounding community as a precaution.
"It's a system that alerts people in the area that they should shelter in place, stay indoors, close their windows, in case the material goes out to the community," he said. Plant personnel were working Saturday night to determine how much material was released and the plant will conduct a thorough investigation of the incident, Dalpe said.
(Paducah Sun Aug. 2, 2015)
Until the company's investigation into the leak is complete, production at the plant will stay at a standstill.
(Paducah Sun Aug. 3, 2015)
On Aug. 3, 2015, NRC announced the launch of a special inspection of the plant.
> Download: NRC release Aug. 3, 2015 (PDF)
Honeywell's Metropolis facility has completed its investigation of an Aug. 1 leak at the plant and resumed full production.
Spokesman Peter Dalpe said production resumed Wednesday (Aug. 26) after investigation findings showed the cause was overpressurization of a system that was undergoing maintenance.
According to Honeywell, its investigation showed 12.04 pounds of UF6 were released.
The UF6 converted to 2.41 pounds of hydrofluoric acid when it was exposed to air.
(Paducah Sun Aug. 27, 2015)
On Oct. 8, 2015, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to Honeywell for having issued an unwarranted shelter-in-place Protective Action Recommendation to the public (!!).
> Download NRC Special Inspection Report and Notice of Violation , Oct. 8, 2015 (2.1MB PDF)
On Nov. 16, 2015, NRC issued another Notice of Violation to Honeywell, this time for a failure that provided a release pathway for uranium hexafluoride and contributed to the leak: The violation involved the failure to follow procedure which, in part, required that where line breaking was followed by a period of down time, breaks in the system be properly capped with blind flanges for the duration of the out-of-service period.
> Download NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation , Nov. 16, 2015 (95kB PDF)
UF6 production resumes at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant after three-month outage
On April 13, 2015, ConverDyn announced that UF6 production at the Honeywell Metropolis conversion facility has successfully commenced following an extended three-month maintenance shutdown. The extended shutdown "optimized site resources and aligned UF6 production targets with reduced customer demand."
Goldman Sachs stored uranium ore concentrate at Metropolis conversion plant
> View Goldman Sachs to wind down uranium trading business - after U.S. Senate report sheds some light on it, raising a number of issues
NRC issues Notice of Violation to Honeywell for allowing unqualified operators to perform licensed activities at Metropolis conversion plant
"[...] on January 1, 2014, two operators conducted licensed material activities and were not trained and qualified as specified in the TQD [Training Qualification Description] for an assistant green salt operator. Specifically, an ore preparation operator and an assistant operator conducted green salt drumming operations and were not trained and qualified as assistant green salt operators."
> Download NRC Integrated Inspection Report 40-3392/2014-004 and Notice of Violation, Oct. 28, 2014 (PDF)
Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant shut down after UF6 leak
The Honeywell Plant has confirmed there was a leak of UF6 about 7:35 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 26).
The company issued a news release late Sunday. It read that the "leak has been contained and a trained response team is currently working to ensure the leak has been stopped completely."
Honeywell spokesman Peter Dalpe wrote that "there have been no injuries and there is no indication that any material has left the building."
(WSIL TV Oct. 26, 2014 - emphasis added)
"On October 26, at 8:24 p.m. EST, Honeywell Metropolis Works experienced a leak of UF6 inside the Feed Materials Building (FMB). The initial indication was a chemical alarm near the UF6 cold traps. An operator noticed on the room monitor video screen a haze in the air inside the fourth floor of the FMB. This haze indicated a UF6 leak. The leak occurred during a routine sublimation and draining of a cold trap. Honeywell operators implemented emergency procedures to shut down and evacuate the FMB. Emergency responders reentered the FMB to isolate the cold trap and stop the leak. Honeywell stated that the haze in the FMB was cleared by 8:55 p.m. EST. An 'All Clear' was declared by Honeywell at 3:16 a.m. EST on October 27.
Members of the public outside the plant reported a cloud emanating from the building for five minutes before the mitigation spray towers were activated by Honeywell staff. The plant is currently shut down. No injuries were reported."
(NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-II-14-008, Oct. 27, 2014 - emphasis added)
"A Region II inspector was dispatched to Honeywell on October 27. The inspector has confirmed that a small UF6 leak occurred during heating and draining operations. The UF6 vaporized and interacted with moisture in the FMB [Feed Materials Building] allowing it to convert to UO2F2 (a solid form of uranyl fluoride which is a yellow powder) and HF (hydrogen fluoride gas). The NRC inspector observed and confirmed the UO2F2 deposits were contained in the FMB and were within a two to three foot radius of the leak area. The NRC inspector verified that Honeywell staff implemented their emergency plan by assessing the spill and took immediate actions that included sounding the plant emergency alarm, accounting for all personnel, assembling the emergency response team, assessing the event by characterizing that some HF was visible coming from the top of the building, activating the spray system and directing it towards the FMB windows to prevent any HF from reaching the public, directing operators to don safety gear and re-enter the facility to stop the spill of UF6, isolating and cooling the leaking cold trap (cooling the trap forces the UF6 to solidify), placing a vacuum system in service to capture vaporized UF6, and monitoring fence HF detectors from the fluorine plant control room which indicated no detectable HF at the fence."
(NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-II-14-008A, Oct. 31, 2014 - emphasis added)
"[...] the NRC inspection found that Honeywell did not recognize that the HF released from the FMB warranted an emergency classification of ALERT. Honeywell agreed with the NRC findings and subsequently reported their failure to properly classify the October 26 event to the NRC at 2:04 p.m. EST on November 5 [NRC Event Number 50594]."
(NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-II-14-008B, Nov. 6, 2014 - emphasis added)
"The NRC has concluded the implemented actions provide high confidence Honeywell will properly assess any future events in accordance with the requirements of the emergency plan and has authorized restart of the Honeywell facility."
(NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-II-14-008C, Nov. 13, 2014 - emphasis added)
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued a notice of violation to the Honeywell facility in Metropolis, Ill. for the failure to declare an Alert and properly notify the NRC in response to a uranium hexafluoride leak that occurred on October 26, 2014."
(NRC News Release Apr. 21, 2015 - emphasis added)
"[...] when the drum lid was being removed at the ConverDyn facility weighing and sampling plant, as the drum lid bolts were being removed, the lid of the drum buckled and U3O8 concentrates escaped the drum and spread in an approximately six foot radius around the drum in the sampling plant area."
(Uranium One email to NRC, Sep. 10, 2014)
> See also current issues Willow Creek (Wyoming)
NRC steps up supervision of Metropolis conversion plant in view of worker lockout
A lockout of about 135 union employees at a Honeywell International Inc uranium conversion plant in Illinois is poised to extend past a month as the two sides remain apart on several issues.
Production and maintenance employees at the Metropolis, Illinois, plant who are members of United Steelworkers Local 7-669 have been locked out since the start of August, after a three-year contract expired.
Honeywell has continued to operate the plant after the lockout, with the remaining roughly 135 plant employees who are non-union, as well as with contingent workers.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken more precautions since the lockout began, including continuously staffing the plant during the first 72 hours and increasing safety inspections to once a week from the typical schedule of about once a month.
No "significant issues" have been found, but the NRC will continue the stepped-up inspection schedule until the work stoppage is resolved or the agency is satisfied the plant can operate long-term without any issues, said NRC spokesman Roger Hannah.
(Reuters Aug. 25, 2014)
Comment invited on renewal of RCRA hazardous waste management permit for Metropolis conversion plant
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and U. S. EPA hereby give notice of intent to renew a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit held by Honeywell International, Inc. at 2768 North US 45 Road, 1.5 miles north of Metropolis, Illinois. Honeywell manages hazardous wastes generated by its facility's industrial processes in containers and surface impoundments under its existing RCRA permit; the draft permit renewal contains no significant changes to currently permitted activities.
Submit written comment and/or request public hearing by September 28, 2013.
> Download Public Notice Aug. 14, 2013 (PDF - IEPA)
NRC authorizes Metropolis conversion plant to resume operations after upgrades
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has determined that the company may resume all NRC-licensed activities.
In October 2012, the NRC issued a confirmatory order to Honeywell describing the steps the company would have to take before it could resume its uranium conversion operations. That order came after inspections earlier in 2012 identified concerns related to the likelihood of a release of uranium hexafluoride following an earthquake or tornado.
The plant has been shut down since May 2012 and the company has been enhancing and modifying equipment to meet the requirements of that order. In June, the NRC allowed the plant to begin limited operations, but today's decision authorizes operation of all of the plant processes covered by its NRC license.
> Download NRC release July 2, 2013 (PDF)
NRC issues Confirmatory Order to Honeywell on hardening of Metropolis conversion plant against seismic and wind events
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Order to Honeywell International, Inc., outlining actions the company must take before it can resume its uranium conversion operations at the Honeywell Metropolis Works facility.
The facility has been shut down since May 9.
During an inspection in May that examined how the facility would fare in a major earthquake or a tornado, the NRC concluded that such an event could result in a higher risk to the public than originally assumed. The inspection identified that process equipment in the facility lacks seismic restraints, support and bracing that would assure integrity during a significant seismic or wind event. Specifically, the amount of uranium hexafluoride that could be released into the environment should the process equipment be damaged by such an event could be significantly larger than assumed in the facility's Emergency Response Plan.
> Download NRC release Oct. 16, 2012 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 205 (Tuesday, October 23, 2012) p. 64831-64834 (download full text )
> Download Confirmatory Order (ADAMS Acc. No. ML12289A800)
Safety upgrades that have kept a Metropolis uranium conversion plant closed since May have begun, and the facility will reopen production in June 2013.
(The Southern Nov. 2, 2012)
NRC issues Notice of Violation to Honeywell for failures that lead to two releases of UF6 at Metropolis conversion plant
On July 30, 2012, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to Honeywell for failures that lead to two releases of uranium hexafluoride:
"[...] on May 14 and on May 30, 2012, the licensee failed to govern the
use of and adherence to written procedures. On May 14, an operator failed to adhere to
the requirements of written procedure MTW-SOP-CYL-0701, ''Washing UF6 Cylinders,'' which resulted in a UF6 release in the area of the cylinder wash facility. On May 30, the licensee failed to adhere to the requirements of written procedure MTW-SOP-DIS-0203, ''Sampling Suspect Cylinders and Maintaining the Sample Vacuum System,'' which resulted in a UF6 release in the distillation area of the Feed Materials Building. [...]"
Production shutdown at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant extended for seismic inspections
On June 25, 2012, Honeywell International Inc. announced that it has extended the annual production shutdown at the Metropolis Works conversion plant from the previously scheduled completion date of early July 2012. This action is being taken to continue consultations with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding post-Fukushima seismic inspections and possible modifications required at Metropolis Works.
Estimated time for restarting operations will be determined after consultations with the NRC.
On July 11, 2012, Honeywell International Inc. announced that it will not restart production at the facility until reaching agreement with the Commission on the necessary upgrade projects and timing. Completion of upgrades to the Metropolis Works facility could take approximately 12 to 15 months.
On July 13, 2012, NRC issued a related confirmatory action letter to Honeywell.
> Download NRC release July 13, 2012 .
NRC issues Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for revised dose calculations at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 97 (Friday, May 18, 2012) p. 29697-29700 (download full text )
Operation of Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant halted for unplanned repairs
Production of nuclear fuel at the Honeywell International uranium conversion plant in Metropolis, Ill., was halted last week, after the company found damage to equipment during a routine inspection.
Spokesman Peter Dalpe said he can't comment on the specific damage, but added that the equipment was not operational.
(Chicago Tribune May 15, 2012)
NRC once again identifies multiple violations at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant
During inspections conducted from July 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011, NRC found six license violations at the Honeywell Specialty Chemicals facility.
(NRC Inspection Report No. 40-3392/2011-004 and Notice of Violation, October 28, 2011)
- Two examples of a violation of NRC's requirements were identified which include failure to establish additional warning devices or barriers and postings in an area where an individual could receive a deep dose equivalent, exceeding 50 mRem [0.5 mSv] in one hour at a distance of 30 centimeters, and failure to post and control a High Radiation Area where an individual could receive a deep dose equivalent exceeding 100 mRem [1 mSv] in one hour at a distance of 30 centimeters.
- Three violations were identified during a fire inspection.
- A violation was identified for workers pulling respirators away from face in order to
communicate in a red light lit area signifying a posted airborne area.
NRC denies selfguarantee of decommissioning funding for Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant
On Dec. 11, 2009, NRC Staff denied an exemption request by Honeywell for selfguarantee of decommissioning funding for its Metropolis Works.
Honeywell appealed the NRC decision, but NRC Staff denied the exemption request again in a letter dated April 25, 2011.
On June 22, 2011, Honeywell requested a hearing on the NRC's 2011 decision to deny the exemption request.
On Feb. 29, 2012, an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued LBP-12-06, denying the exemption request.
On March 22, 2012, Honeywell petitioned that decision for review.
On Jan. 9, 2013, the NRC issued Memorandum and Order CLI-13-01, affirming the denial of the requested exemption.
NRC issues notice of availability of environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for closure of calcium fluoride ponds at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant:
> Federal Register Volume 78, Number 188 (Friday, September 27, 2013)
p. 59731-59732 (download full text )
> Download Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact
> Access Docket ID NRC-2011-0143
EPA opposes approval of calcium fluoride pond closure project at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant, requests preparation of EIS:
"U.S. EPA strongly encourages NRC not to issue a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) until the remaining issues are resolved. U.S. EPA believes a FONSI based on the provided draft EA is not appropriate at this time. [...] Moreover, because of the potential for significant impacts to public health and the environment and the degree to which effects on the quality of the human environment are likely to be highly controversial, U.S. EPA believes that NRC should consider preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement to inform its decommissioning decision."
(EPA letter to NRC May 30, 2013)
NRC issues Notice of license amendment request and opportunity to request a hearing on calcium fluoride pond closure project at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant:
Requests for a hearing must be filed by September 6, 2011.
Federal Register: July 7, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 130) p. 39918-39922 (download full text )
Honeywell pays US$ 12 million fine for illegal waste storage at Metropolis conversion plant:
On March 11, 2011, Honeywell announced that it has resolved a U.S. government investigation into permitting and storage issues at its Metropolis, Ill., facility.
As part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the company will pay a total of $12 million in fines and supplemental environmental projects to resolve the matter, which involved the storage of a regulated material without a proper permit.
Residents concerned about Honeywell's plan to close old calcium fluoride ponds at Metropolis conversion plant by in situ cementation:
The plan has outraged several people in Southern Illinois, as they are concerned about the possibility of the ponds leaking and creating a disaster in the region.
"It is a concern; (the waste) is there," said Mike Riley, a former longtime Honeywell employee who is now the USW's health and local safety representative. "I don't see how putting concrete with it is going to get rid of the problem."
In 2000, an EPA report on stabilization and solidification projects at badly polluted sites across the country found that concentrations of toxins at those sites were reduced enough to generally meet government standards.
Unfortunately, the EPA also noted in the same report that the long-term effectiveness of solidification and stabilization is unknown.
The EPA quoted various studies showing that "cement-based stabilized wastes are vulnerable to the same physical and chemical degradation processes as concrete and other cement-based materials," which means they have the "potential to disintegrate over a period of 50 to 100 years."
That timeframe is what concerns Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel.
"I want it where, 50 years from now in our community, we don't have an issue at Honeywell or at any other plant, that could be taking lives or having babies born with deformities," McDaniel said. "We want things done right, and in the right way, the first time."
(The Southern Jan. 23, 2011)
> Download: Solidification/Stabilization Use at Superfund Sites , EPA-542-R00-010, U.S. EPA, September 2000, 23 p. (Enter search term: 542R00010)
Honeywell submits decommissioning plan for closure of old calcium fluoride ponds at Metropolis conversion plant:
On December 2, 2010, Honeywell submitted a decommissioning plan related to closure of existing surface impoundments at the Metropolis Works facility.
Honeywell submits license amendment request for closure of old calcium fluoride ponds at Metropolis conversion plant by in situ cementation:
"Honeywell International, Inc. is the holder of Source Materials License No. SUB-526 (NRC License), a 10 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40 license last renewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2007. Under this license, the licensee operates its Honeywell Metropolis Works, Inc. (MTW) formerly ''Allied Signal'' (Allied) plant at Metropolis, Illinois, where it converts uranium ore concentrates to uranium hexafluoride (UF6) by the ''fluoride volatility process.''"
"This license amendment request relates to an area of the MTW site known as the CaF2 Pond Area, where MTW formerly precipitated calcium fluoride (CaF2). The CaF2 Pond Area includes four surface impoundments known as Ponds B, C, D, and E. Pond A was closed in 2001 and the CaF2 materials removed from the site.
Ponds B, C, D, and E were constructed from 1974 through 1979 and currently store CaF2 materials which contain trace amounts of natural radioactive isotopes including, but not limited to uranium and thorium. This material was generated prior to 1982 when MTW used a fluoride removal process that involved use of calcium hydroxide to precipitate calcium fluoride in the ponds. The installation of a CaF2 recovery system in 1982 curtailed the use of the ponds for calcium fluoride precipitation. Currently, no material is discharged to Ponds B, C and E, and Pond D only receives flow from MTW's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitted wastewater treatment system prior to discharge at permitted Outfall 002.
MTW is required by its RCRA permit to close Ponds B, C, D and E by 2020. As part of the closure process, MTW has submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) an application to modify MTW's RCRA permit to close the ponds in place using in situ sludge stabilization with a pozzolanic cement material, construction of an engineered cap and long-term maintenance." [emphasis added]
The four ponds cover a combined surface area of 23,900 square metres and contain a combined volume of 88,100 cubic yards [67,357 cubic metres] of CaF2 sludge.
The uranium concentration in the sludge is in the 200 - 300 ppm U (0.02 - 0.03% U) range, so the total uranium contents is approximately in the 20 - 30 t U range. [The uranium concentration is higher than that found in several uranium deposits currently being developed for mining in Namibia, such as Trekkopje, Valencia, and Etango.]
> Download Honeywell Presentation Oct. 5, 2010 (278k PDF)
> Download: License Amendment Request Report, US NRC License Number SUB-526, Closure of Surface Impoundment Ponds B, C, D, and E, Honeywell International, Inc., Metropolis Works, Metropolis, IL, Nov. 22, 2010:
Authorities investigate compliance of storage of sludges generated by Metropolis conversion plant (Illinois):
The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Justice ("federal authorities") are investigating whether the storage of certain sludges generated during uranium hexafluoride production at our Metropolis, Illinois facility has been in compliance with the requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The federal authorities have convened a grand jury in this matter.
(Honeywell International Inc., Quarterly Report 10-Q, April 23, 2010)
Hydrofluoric acid leak at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant
"At around 3 p.m. this afternoon, the Metropolis plant experienced a leak of hydrofluoric acid at its tank farm. The plant sounded its emergency siren and activated its emergency response procedures as a precaution. The release was immediately contained by the plant's water mitigation system and a team immediately began working to stop the leak. The leak was stopped before 5 p.m. local time.
At this point, there are no indications of off-site impact from the release and it did not involve any radioactive materials. All on-site personnel were accounted for and there were no injuries."
(from the Honeywell official statement, according to WPSD Local 6 Dec. 22, 2010)
The United Steelworkers (USW) today (Dec. 23) has again sounded the alarm over concerns to the community about observations and reports on plume leakages yesterday (Wed. Dec. 22) at the Honeywell uranium conversion facility that is involved in a five-month-old labor dispute.
According to news reports, the plume leak occurred at approximately 3 p.m. (CT).
USW pickets outside the Honeywell facility noticed a large plume from the hydrofluoric acid (HF) storage area. The plant's mitigation towers, which spray water to knock down any escaping gas, were turned on and sirens sounded. The towers sprayed for approximately an hour and a half. The emergency siren was turned on, then immediately off, and then later on again.
USW Local 7-669 President Darrell Lillie said, "We have been warning everyone for months that there is the possibility of a fatality and major breach of public safety at this plant. The workers in the plant do not have the experience it takes to safely run this facility."
Honeywell has been running the plant with replacement workers since locking out the union workforce of 228 on Jun. 28. The plant has been recently cited for violations by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and is under a separate investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) concerning improper storage of potassium hydroxide.
"The community should be outraged at the way the facility is being operated and their safety at risk, and demand that someone take action before this becomes the present day Katrina," Lillie said.
According to the USW local union leader, Honeywell issued a statement that claimed the plume was a "small release" of hydrofluoric acid. However, the experienced union workers from the plant, who are on the picket lines, could do nothing but watch with skepticism that a so-called "small" release doesn't require the mitigation towers to run for more than an hour.
(United Steelworkers (USW) Dec. 23, 2010)
> Download NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-II-10-005 , Dec. 23, 2010 (PDF)
> Download Communities at Risk? Potential Hazards in Metropolis, IL and Paducah, KY from the Honeywell Lockout, Jan. 18, 2011 (6.3MB PDF - United Steelworkers)
OSHA proposes $119,000 in fines to Honeywell for HF release at Metropolis conversion plant:
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Honeywell International Inc. with 17 serious safety violations for process safety management violations after its Metropolis processing plant experienced a release of hydrogen fluoride vapor. Proposed penalties total $119,000.
The incident occurred on Dec. 22, 2010. There were no reported injuries as a result of the incident, which was rectified by the company's internal response team.
An inspection was initiated under OSHA's national emphasis program on facilities that could potentially release hazardous chemicals. Violations include
The company also was cited for a deficient incident report that did not include factors contributing to the vapor release and the recommendation resulting from the internal investigation.
(West Kentucky Star Jun. 22, 2011)
- allowing cylinders to be exposed to physical damage;
- having inaccurate field verifications on tanks and values;
- using equipment that was not in compliance with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices;
- failing to have clear written operating instructions for processes such as unloading hydrogen fluoride into storage tanks and switching storage tanks;
- failing to address human factors in relation to remote operating valves on the hydrogen fluoride storage tanks;
- failing to document and resolve issues addressed by the process hazard analysis team;
- failing to establish written procedures to maintain the integrity of process equipment;
- failing to implement written emergency operating procedures for emptying hydrogen fluoride tanks;
- failing to perform appropriate checks and inspections to ensure equipment was properly installed; and
- failing to establish and implement written procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, equipment and procedures.
NRC identifies multiple violations at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant
- The first violation is for the failure to provide the Total Effective Dose Equivalent (TEDE) for public dose assessments:
As of June 11, 2010, the licensee had not included the liquid effluent or external dose components of the total effective dose equivalent in the public dose analysis but had characterized the airborne effluent dose analysis as the total public dose analysis.
- the second violation is for the failure to properly conduct investigations for process stack exceedances:
Beginning in January 2009, the licensee routinely identified dust collector stack samples which were above the investigation limits for three successive samples and failed to initiate an investigation to identify the source and required corrective actions.
- the third violation is for the failure to properly protect the security of training test materials along with the failure to prevent coaching during on-the-job evaluations.
> Download NRC Inspection Report No. 40-3392/2010-002 and Notice of Violation, Nov. 10, 2010 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML103140705)
Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant in partial shutdown for bargaining unit lock-out
On June 28, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. CDT, plant management locked out the bargaining unit workers represented by the United Steelworkers of America (Local 7-669) after ongoing contract negotiations failed to reach an agreement.
The licensee had placed the plant in a safe partial shutdown before the lockout. A combination of management, engineers, and trained temporary workers continue to operate ore preparation and green salt processes while fluorination and distillation systems remain in cold shutdown. No incidents were reported during implementation of the lockout.
> Download NRC Preliminary Notification PNO-II-10-003, June 29, 2010 (PDF)
NRC issues Notice of Violation to Honeywell for not reporting 37 (!) contamination events at Metropolis conversion plant
On June 12, 2009, NRC issued a Notice of Violation to Honeywell for not reporting 37 unplanned contamination events identified between the period of October 17, 2008, and
March 29, 2009, at the Metropolis conversion plant. (ADAMS Acc. No. ML091630570)
NRC approves new small cylinder filling process at Metropolis conversion plant (Illinois)
On Jan. 13, 2009, NRC approved a new process of filling small uranium hexafluoride (UF6) cylinders, 12B and 30B, using the UF6 Continuous Sampling System.
Converdyn reportedly plans to nearly double capacity of its Metropolis conversion plant (Illinois)
"Ideally by 2020 we will be producing an optimum of 23,000 tonnes and a maximum would be 26,000 [tonnes]," ConverDyn CEO James Graham told Reuters this week. In 2007, the maximum output of the Metropolis facility was 15,000 tonnes UF6, according to Graham. (Tradetech Jan. 18, 2008)
Converdyn announces capacity increase at Metropolis conversion plant
On June 18, 2007, Converdyn announced that, after the installation of new equipment, the nameplate annual capacity of the Metropolis uranium conversion now is 17,600 MTU as UF6 (up from 14,000).
The next level of planned expansion is to 18,000 MTU as UF6 in the 2012 timeframe or when market conditions dictate the need.
Proposed License Renewal for Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant
A 10-year license renewal was issued on May 15, 2007.
On Aug. 4, 2006, NRC issued a Notice of Availability of Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Renewal of the Operating License for the
Honeywell Metropolis Works Uranium Conversion Facility in Metropolis, IL.
Federal Register: August 10, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 154) p. 45862-45864 (download full text )
On Feb. 10, 2006, NRC issued a draft environmental assessment for the proposed license renewal of the Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant.
> Download ML060400180 (NRC ADAMS)
Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant shut down after UF6 leak
Illinois EPA files lawsuit against Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant for UF6 leakages:
On December 30, 2004, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) filed a lawsuit filed against the Metropolis Works Conversion Facility (MTW) . The
complaint charges Honeywell International with air pollution for the September and December 2003 incidents
that occurred at MTW. The complaint charges that "Honeywell subjected its workers and its neighbors not
once, but twice, to dangerous levels of hazardous materials" and that the state is "working to ensure that
corrective measures have been taken to minimize the possibility that these alleged employee mistakes will occur
again". The suit seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 per violation and an additional $10,000 for each day the
(Converdyn Jan. 6, 2005)
NRC cites Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant for violations:
After a thorough review, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has determined that two violations of NRC requirements occurred as a result of the uranium hexafluoride release at the Honeywell plant in Metropolis, Illinois, in late December 2003.
NRC inspectors found that Honeywell employees reconfigured the fluorination system without detailed instructions which allowed the leak to occur. During the event, the company also failed to implement some parts of its emergency response plan and did not provide sufficient information to local emergency responders.
> View NRC release May 11, 2004
NRC approves restart of Honeywell Metropolis uranium conversion plant (Illinois):
> View NRC releases: Mar. 27, 2004 · Apr. 14, 2004 · Apr. 17, 2004
Converdyn uranium conversion plant to resume operation after 3-month outage due to leakage:
The Metropolis conversion facility is scheduled to restart operations during the week of 22 March 2004, according to ConverDyn. In a phased restart, front-end uranium hexafluoride (UF6) operations will begin first, followed by the restart of the remaining stages of the process, to be completed during the week of 29 March. The first full cylinders of UF6 are expected to become available during the week of 5 April. (WNA News Briefing 04.11, March 16, 2004)
UF6 leak at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant entails another plant shutdown:
"At approximately 2:24 a.m. (CST) there was a uranium hexafluoride (UF6) leak from a valve in their chemical process. The release was confirmed to have been terminated at approximately 3:20 a.m. (CST). Uranium hexafluoride is a hazardous chemical with low level radioactivity associated with the uranium component of the chemical.
Honeywell declared a site area emergency at 3:00 a.m. (CST). Fence line monitors indicated the possibility of a material release offsite. Local authorities evacuated approximately 25 people near the plant and approximately 75 people remained sheltered in their homes. Three individuals were taken to the hospital.
Two of these individuals have been released. There were no injuries onsite. [...]" (NRC PNO-II-03-022, Dec. 22, 2003)
The NRC dispatched inspectors to the plant. In a Confirmatory Action Letter, NRC ordered Honeywell to shutdown the plant and perform an own investigation into the event. (NRC Release II-03-052 , Dec. 23, 2003)
In its Inspection Report dated March 16, 2004, NRC identified two apparent license violations: the failure to have a procedure for the evolution
of bringing two fluorinators online for dual operation, and the failures to properly maintain and implement aspects of the Radiological Contingency Plan.
> Download NRC Inspection Report (March 16, 2004) (PDF)
Converdyn uranium conversion plant shut down for incidents
Converdyn uranium conversion plant resumes operation :
ConverDyn's Metropolis conversion facility resumed the production of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) on 18 November 2003, the company announced. Production will gradually increase and normal output rates are expected by mid-December. The facility has undergone significant repairs, retraining and a recertification programme due to recent incidents at the plant.
(WNA News Briefing 03.47, Nov. 25, 2003)
Converdyn uranium conversion plant shut down for incidents:
ConverDyn's Metropolis conversion facility experienced two unrelated plant incidents on 20 September, 2003, that have led to the temporary shutdown of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) production at the site. The plant is expected to restart in early October. (WNA News Briefing 03.38, Sep. 24, 2003)
The incidents included: a hydrofluoric acid (HF) spill on Sep. 9, 2003, an antimony pentafloride (SbF5) release on Sep. 12, 2003, and an uranium hexafluoride (UF6) release from a cylinder pigtail on Sep. 30, 2003. Those incidents were subject to an NRC Inspection Report and Notice of Violation dated Dec. 17, 2003.
NRC accepts blending of CaF2 waste to meet release criteria
By letter dated Sep 14, 2001, the NRC accepted a proposal by Honeywell to blend its calcium fluoride settling pond waste with natural fluorspar (CaF2) to meet the uranium concentration criterion of 212 pCi/g (7.84 Bq/g; 313 ppm) for the unrestricted release of the material. The blended material is to be trucked to Hastie Trucking & Mining Company in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, where it is to be manufactured into a fluorspar briquette for use as a fluxing agent in the steel industry. This arrangement evades the necessity to dump the waste material in a Texas landfill.
Missing shipment of uranium hexafluoride conversion waste
"MISSING SHIPMENT OF CaF SETTLING POND CLEANUP WASTE
A shipment of CaF settling pond waste left the site on July 25, 2001 and apparently did not arrive on July 27, 2001 at the Andrews County WCS in Texas. The shipment, one of several, consisted of 44,480 pounds [20.2 metric tonnes] of 80% CaF and 20% lime with less than 500 ppm natural uranium contained in it. The natural uranium is calculated at about 19 pounds [8.6 kg] total contained in the shipment. The driver reported that the shipment was delivered, but there is no paperwork to support the delivery. [...]
* * * UPDATE ON 8/23/01 @ 1425 BY ROBERTS TO GOULD * * *
Wills Trucking found the material intact on the ground on 8/22/01 north of Dallas, Tx. [...]."
(NRC Daily Event Report Aug. 24, 2001 )
(HALEU = Low-enriched uranium with an assay of the fissile uranium isotope U-235 greater than 5 and less than 20 weight-%)
Production starts at Centrus HALEU centrifuge enrichment plant:
On Oct. 11, 2023, Centrus Energy announced that it has begun enrichment operations at its High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) facility in Piketon, Ohio, and expects to begin withdrawing HALEU product later this month.
The capacity of the 16-centrifuge cascade is modest -- about 900 kilograms of HALEU per year -- but with sufficient funding and offtake commitments, Centrus could significantly expand production.
(Centrus Energy Oct. 11, 2023)
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