The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Friday, March 12, 2004

Update by NRC at Massac

Staff Report

METROPOLIS, Ill.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss improvements Honeywell has made since a Dec. 22 toxic gas release that caused neighbors to flee and the company to shut down its Metropolis uranium processing plant.

The meeting will be in the second-floor large courtroom at the Massac County Courthouse at 1 Superman Square. People may observe and ask questions of the NRC staff at the end of the meeting.

Discussion will center on efforts to improve plant safety and emergency preparedness. NRC inspectors have asked the company to say during the meeting what changes have been made to support restarting production.

During the meeting, no decision will be made when to restart the plant, the NRC said.

Plant managers said earlier they were working with local emergency services officials to improve communication if there is another release.

In December, about seven pounds of uranium hexafluoride rose 86 feet high, and light winds pushed the chemicals northwest.

NRC inspectors said during a January public meeting that although the release was the plant's fourth since September, it had little effect on worker or public health and safety. The mildly radioactive gas is mainly a chemical threat because it emits caustic hydrogen fluoride, they said.