Honeywell, NRC Dispute Report of College Students Operating Nuclear Plant; HNN Sources Allege Book Trained Replacement Workers Operated Plant

Updated 5 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Honeywell, NRC Dispute Report of College Students Operating Nuclear Plant; HNN Sources Allege  Book Trained  Replacement Workers Operated Plant

Variations on the consequences of the Sunday evening UH6 leak at the  Honeywell, Metropolitan, Illinois nuclear release continue.

John McCarthy , Honeywell PMT Communications in Morristown, N.J. has submitted a written article denying that there were injuries and that full containment did occur. That response will be printed in full below. They have further denied that college students were operating the facility as replacement workers.

Calling our original  article a "little misleading" and using "questionable claims," McCarthy stressed that "the claim about students and interns operating the plant is completely false."

Joey Ledford, an NRC spokesman, stated, "We have no indication of any interns on site. All were permanent full time employees." Ledford stated he assumed they were the previously trained (replacement) workers.

A Paducah resident, reiterated,  that at least one  union member before the lock out   "trained two young ladies that were in engineering school.  I have been told they all are young and were book trained, however never ran units until lockout.  They [were] winging it."

These students carried their books and studied feverishly in the lunchroom. They had no prior experience operating a nuclear plant.

Some neighbors have expressed their fears when young workers were operating the plant.

As for injuries, Ledford confirmed that Honeywell employees underwent urinalysis as a precaution,

In addition, Robin McDaniels, a representative of Massac Memorial Hospital, has confirmed that ten or eleven people arrived at the hospital Sunday evening for uranium exposure testing. They came from a nearby plant and tested "negative."  Under law, the spokesperson could not release whether any of the individuals sustained an injury. The hospital called in additional employees to cope with potential emergency conditions. She declined to discuss additional individuals brought to the hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

A union source indicated that workers at Cook County Coal in Metropolis "got exposed to the release" A guard passed out and hit his head at the Coal company. Other workers complained of hurting and burning throats. As late as Tuesday, some Cook Coal workers still complained of "burning throats."

Although the plant remains shut, they are not under an NRC order. "it's their call," Ledford said. "If they repair the leak, they can reopen."

The NRC spokesperson indicated that preliminary  Inspection assessments will be available  early next week.   Honeywell has  said no material was detected at beyond the plant boundaries.

Honeywell, though its spokesperson, stated:

On the Oct 26 event:

The leak that occurred at Honeywell’s Metropolis facility Sunday evening was due to an apparent equipment failure in the main production building. Plant personnel followed all emergency procedures and plant safety systems performed as designed. The plant is continuing its investigation into the incident and working to determine how much material was released. It has informed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


The facility has sensors throughout the building and around the plant to detect the type of material that is released when UF6 encounters moisture in the air. When UF6 comes in contact with water present in air, it immediately reacts and breaks down to UO2F2 and hydrogen fluoride (HF). UO2F2 is a heavy, solid material that immediately falls to floor near the equipment. The plant has confirmed that none of this material was found beyond the immediate area of the leak. Hydrogen fluoride is a gas and the sensors detect even low levels of this gas. The only sensors that registered any readings of HF were in production building in the area of the leak. There we no sensor readings outside the building.


HF is contained is by deluging it with water. This is why the plant activated the water spray towers, which is standard procedure. The water mitigation systems spray very high volumes of water mist into the air and were the reason for the mist around the facility during the incident.


On who is running the plant:

During the current work stoppage, we have operated the plant with fully-trained and qualified salaried and contingent workers. The training and certifications for salaried staff and contingent workers are identical to what union employees are required to undergo before working in the same roles at the plant. All were thoroughly trained and certified well before the work stoppage and those certifications were checked by NRC inspectors.


On the claim that “about a month ago, three workers were hurt inside the plant, but were told not to tell anyone about their injuries.”

Simply not true. Honeywell’s safety protocols and processes encourage and require all workers to report any and all injuries or other incidents, both for the protection of the workers as well as to help improve safety going forward.







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