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New orders are out to Honeywell on what safety measures must be in place before the company’s Metropolis, IL, uranium conversion plant can restart operations said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Uranium conversion at the Honeywell Metropolis Works plant has stopped since May, after NRC officials found problems within the facility that could cause public harm in the event of a natural disaster. Officials worried an earthquake or tornado could breach the plant, causing the release of the chemical uranium hexafluoride. NRC said there are no safety concerns as long as the plant remains idle.

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The agency is requiring Honeywell to revise its emergency response plans to natural disasters, as well as make necessary facility modification to make it more earthquake and wind resistant. The company is cooperating with the agency in making the changes.

Honeywell plant manager Larry Smith said the agreement with NRC “gives … clarity about the type and extent of necessary upgrades to the facility, allowing us to continue the scoping, planning and design work.”

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Company officials are estimating how long it will take to restart uranium conversion processes but said needed upgrades could take between nine and 12 months to complete.

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