Public meeting addresses Honeywell leak - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Public meeting addresses Honeywell leak

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UPDATE: 10:25 p.m. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2015

METROPOLIS -- At Thursday's meeting, people in Metropolis got to ask questions about a recent leak at Honeywell.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission found Honeywell employees failed to follow procedure on equipment maintenance.

They also found Honeywell workers inadvertently issued a "shelter in place" recommendation for people living closest to the facility in error.

Fortunately no one was hurt during the leak, but the NRC credits Honeywell for that.

"Because of the nature of the event and because they did take very prompt action to mitigate the effects of leak, there were no workers injured and no one living near the honeywell facility was affected," said Roger Hannah, Senior Public Affairs Officer for the US Nuclear Regulatory Office Commission Region Office in Atlanta.

Local residents like Charles Eichorn seemed to feel reassured by what the NRC had to say about Honeywell.

"That's what the public expects and that's what the public should have is safe environment," said Eichorn.

"We can't say that there won't be another leak, but certainly we feel confident that they've taken the steps that we would like to see them take to make sure that this is less likely to happen in the future," added Hannah.

ORIGINAL STORY

METROPOLIS -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public meeting to address a leak that took place at Honeywell Metropolis Works over the summer.

The facility was shut down for a short time after a uranium hexafluoride leak. The NRC launched a special inspection.

Thursday night's meeting will reveal the findings.

The NRC wanted this meeting because of the amount of interest from community members regarding Honeywell's past issues. Honeywell had a leak a year ago for which they received a violation notice. NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said it's important to talk about the inspection and answer any general questions about Honeywell and how they're being regulated.

Metropolis resident Gabrielle Lindsey remembers well when she was told there was a leak at the Honeywell plant over the summer.

"I was actually outside with my daughter and my younger sisters. They're eight and nine," explained Lindsey.

On August 1 at 5:55 p.m. the plant declared an alert after experiencing a uranium hexaflouride leak. Lindsey found out from a family member and immediately started to panic.

"When she called she said get in the house, close the windows, and turn off the air. So I ran in and told my dad so we didn't know what happened," said Lindsey.

The company said no one at the facility was injured, nor was there any evidence that material had been released off site. The NRC quickly launched their special inspection, serving the plant with two low-level violations 

"It found that the Honeywell personnel inadvertently issued a 'shelter in place' recommendation for people living closest to the facility in error," explained Hannah.

Hannah said this particular event did not require residents to take shelter, but nearby business owner Lori Russell said she would appreciate being notified any time there is a leak.

"Being in this community we should know if any exposure was done at all," said Russell.

Hannah said Honeywell has taken steps to correct their process to try to ensure that doesn't happen again. 

The second part of the low-level violation is what led to the leak itself.

"That was a failure by personnel of the facility to follow a procedure that involved the maintenance of some equipment and that actually led to the actual leak," explained Hannah.

More will be shared on the inspection during Thursday night's meeting. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Metropolis Community Center.

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