campaign donations, dangers of nuclear, Energy and Commerce Committee, Environment and Economy Chair, evacuation zone, Honeywell, Honeywell International, Honeywell Lockout, Honeywell uranium hexafluoride leak, John Shimkus, Metropolis Illinois, nuclear energy, nuclear power, risk management, uranium processing, US Congress, US government, US NRC
Honeywell Metropolis Uranium Processing 25 miles (40 km) Evacuation Zone http://usw7-669.com/sites/usw7-669.com/files/honeywellreport-1-14-11final.pdf
“In Metropolis, Illinois, 228 members of the United Steelworkers (Local 7-669) have been locked out from their jobs at the only uranium conversion facility in the United States. Honeywell International, Inc. has replaced these experienced and highly trained workers with hundreds of temporary laborers who lack adequate experience and have been cited for receiving illegal assistance on the exams that allowed them to begin working.
While a major release of just one chemical could kill or injure thousands of residents and cause irreparable environmental damage, the company has locked its gates and blocked longtime employees from entering their worksite…”
“Honeywell has gone so far as to acknowledge that more than 128,000 residents within a 25-mile radius of the plant could be catastrophically impacted if even 16 percent of the hydrofluoric acid in use were to be released.” http://usw7-669.com/sites/usw7-669.com/files/honeywellreport-1-14-11final.pdf (The above is information about the 2011 worker lockout, but the current situation seems essentially the same, except that we have not read about the workers being cited for receiving illegal assistance this time. They are still reportedly inexperienced and temps.)
The Energy and Commerce Committee, Environment and the Economy Chair is also the US Congressional Rep for Metropolis, Illinois. His number one contributor was Honeywell International via PAC(s):
“Representative John M. Shimkus has reported a total of 305 contributions ($200 or more) totaling $203,948 in the current cycle.
Top 5 Contributors, 2013 – 2014, Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC”
Number 1 is Honeywell International with a Total of $29,999 of which Indivs $0 and PAC $29,999 See: https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?type=C&cid=N00004961&newMem=N&cycle=2014 (Center for Responsive Politics.)
What he oversees at Environment and the Economy:
“Chairman: John Shimkus (IL-15)
All matters related to soil and water contamination, including Superfund and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the regulation of solid, hazardous, and nuclear wastes, including mining, nuclear, oil, gas, and coal combustion waste; emergency environmental response; industrial plant security, including cybersecurity; the regulation of drinking water (Safe Drinking Water Act), including underground injection of fluids (e.g., deep well injection or hydrofracking); toxic substances (Toxic Substances Control Act); noise; and all aspects of the above-referenced jurisdiction related to the Department of Homeland Security.” http://energycommerce.house.gov/subcommittees/environment-and-economy
“With more than 132,000 employees, Honeywell International is a major producer of aviation, aerospace and military products, as well as a range of other things from construction materials to various consumer goods. Founded in 1906, Honeywell is the sponsor of one of the more active political action committees in the United States, donating to politicians from both political parties. Honeywell International routinely spends close to $7 million each year on federal lobbying efforts aimed at dozens of agencies including both chambers of Congress, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration..” https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000334 (Center for Responsive Politics.)
See Honeywell misdeeds at Contractor Misconduct: http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm/1,73,221,html?ContractorID=30
This is from the 2011 worker lockout, but the current situation seems essentially the same, except the “events” vary. 2014 information follows further down.
“Given the sensitive work that occurs at this facility – where highly toxic, combustible, and corrosive chemicals are used to process uranium for use in nuclear fuel – Honeywell’s use of temporary replacement staff poses a potential hazard not just within the plant, but for the entire Metropolis and Paducah areas, as well.
On September 5, 2010 – shortly after the temporary workforce had reopened the plant – hydrogen and fluorine were accidentally recombined, causing an explosion that reportedly shook the ground outside of the facility and could be heard up to a mile away. A number of concerned residents called 911 and state police to report the explosion.
Honeywell claimed that the explosion was a routine “noise”…
These fears came to fruition shortly thereafter, when a release of hydrofluoric acid on December 22, 2010, triggered emergency sirens and activated the facility’s emergency mitigation towers, which are designed to spray water in an attempt to knock down escaping gas.
While the company claimed that the release was small and confined to the plant, it acknowledged that the extremely dangerous chemical leaked for nearly two hours before it was stopped.” http://usw7-669.com/sites/usw7-669.com/files/honeywellreport-1-14-11final.pdf
Important Articles regarding this 2014 Lockout and Toxic Gas Release:
“Safety Advocate Agrees Inexperienced Replacement Workers Helmed Metropolis Nuclear Plant when Toxic Gas Release Took Place“, Monday, November 3, 2014 – 22:17 by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor http://www.huntingtonnews.net/42320, http://www.huntingtonnews.net/99990 Article includes interesting information including a statement regarding replacement workers being used since the union complained about the Metropolis plant having “received ‘materials sparking’ when drums were opened that originated from the Fernald Plant in Ohio, which contained enriched material over 0.71% assay.” http://www.huntingtonnews.net/99990 We tried without success to find additional information on this topic elsewhere to no avail. Fernald is a story all its own!
“Reports Differ on Injuries at Metropolis Nuclear Plant Following Leakage of Uranium Hexafluoride“, Thursday, October 30, 2014 – 20:34 by by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor http://www.huntingtonnews.net/42320. http://www.huntingtonnews.net/99639
We hope to soon see workers at the Metropolis plant making something safer for themselves, everyone else, and for the environment, such as biofuels from food waste, or windmills.
According to the NEIS: “The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has five monitoring stations outside the facility to detect Uranium Hexafluoride which are checked every Monday. Data collected from IEMA’s monitoring stations on Monday, October 27th will we be available in approximately four days by request through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request. The IEMA monitoring stations purpose is mainly radiological and are set up to detect Uranium Hexafluoride.” Read more about this topic here: http://neis.org/metropolis-radiation-site-emergency-leak-of-toxic-uranium-hexafluoride/
2014: “HONEYWELL ADMITS TO MISCLASSIFYING EMERGENCY
Company reports to Nuclear Regulatory Commission that event classification should have been upgraded
Metropolis, IL – In an event report filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) by Honeywell, the company claims that, according to their own Emergency Response protocol, the event “should have been upgraded” at 7:42pm to “Alert” status.
Honeywell Spokesperson, Peter Dalpe, in multiple statements claimed “All plant emergency procedures were followed,” but now the company is admitting that may not be the case. Dalpe went as far as to say, “It is disappointing that the union is spreading misleading information about Sunday’s incident and the site’s appropriate and effective emergency response.”
In a report filed by the NRC outlining the initial results of their investigation states the “NRC inspection found that Honeywell did not recognize that the HF released from the FMB warranted an emergency classification of ALERT.” The report added, “Honeywell has determined that if any HF travelled beyond their property it would have been of such low concentration as to pose no public safety hazard.”
On October 26, the night of the release, Honeywell reported to local news stations WPSD and WSIL that “no material left the building.” The statements from the company changed over time to “no UF6 material left the building,” and “no UF6 material left the site.” Company statements on October 28 claimed that “Had any UF6 or HF approached the facility’s perimeter, our sensors would have been triggered and we would have evacuated the area,” however, as the union pointed out, there are no active perimeter HF sensors on the west fence line, the direction the plume was moving during the event.
United Steelworkers Local 7-669 President, Stephen Lech, said “It is unfortunate that the NRC was not even going to investigate the event and simply take Honeywell’s word for their response until the union sent the Commission a video of the event. We are now beginning to see that the union’s claims of an inadequate response were not an over reaction.”
Honeywell had shut down operation of the facility voluntarily while the investigation continued, but now, according to the report, “NRC will confirm the adequacy of Honeywell’s corrective actions to ensure effective implementation of their emergency plan prior to resuming operations.”
The union is also calling for the NRC to hold a community “town hall” meeting prior to allowing the facility to restart.
Union employees have been locked out of the facility since August 2nd, when the two sides could not come to an agreement on a new labor contract, despite the unions offer to continue to operate the plant while negotiations continued.” http://usw7-669.com/story/honeywell-admits-misclassifying-emergency
“This is the phone number for the NRC Inspector General Hotline. People should call and demand and independent investigation into the release and the response plan failure. 1-800-233-3497.” https://www.facebook.com/honeywelllockout
“Is Honeywell Hiding Injuries?
Sun, 09/28/2014 – 10:55pm
This week our union received a call from a contractor letting us know that while performing a wash out of the GF2(Gaseous Fluorine) Plant at least 3 people contracted burns and that the wash out wasn’t being performed correctly. On top of that, the contractor said that contract employees who were injured at the plant were told to say that they were injured away from the plant. This does not come as a surprise as Honeywell continues to attempt to claim that operations are going well and people are working safe….” http://usw7-669.com/story/honeywell-hiding-injuries
The end October release wasn’t the first since the lockout, it seems:
“Two Uranium Releases At Honeywell
Sat, 08/16/2014 – 5:39pm
The Honeywell PR spin machine has been busy lately, notifying the media and the public of just about everything surrounding the lockout, activity at the plant, and the union’s bargaining position, so maybe it just slipped through the cracks when it came time to notify everyone about the two UF6 releases that happened at the plant Friday, August 16. The details around the releases aren’t completely clear at this time. If Honeywell wants to make claims that they want to be upfront with employees and the community, then they should be upfront about everything, not just what they think strengthens their argument at bargaining, which isn’t going very good for them at the moment either. Who knows if we will ever know the truth about what happened yesterday…” http://usw7-669.com/story/two-uranium-releases-honeywell
One thing that the Union is Fighting for:
“Health and Safety Provisions: If workers are exposed to increased radiation, their bioassay samples should be analyzed in a reasonable amount of time. Workers deserve to know their exposure. The company is choosing to ignore this issue.” http://usw7-669.com/story/what-we-are-fighting
The official NRC statement:
“Fuel Cycle Facility Event Number: 50594
Facility: HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL, INC.
RX Type: URANIUM HEXAFLUORIDE PRODUCTION
Comments: UF6 CONVERSION (DRY PROCESS)
City: METROPOLIS State: IL
License #: SUB-526
NRC Notified By: MARK WOLF
HQ OPS Officer: JOHN SHOEMAKER Notification Date: 11/05/2014
Notification Time: 14:04 [ET]
Event Date: 10/26/2014
Event Time: 19:35 [CDT]
Last Update Date: 11/05/2014
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
OTHER UNSPEC REQMNT
BRIAN BONSER (R2DO)
LEN WERT (DEPR)
ROBERT JOHNSON (NMSS)
CATHY HANEY (NMSS)
WILLIAM GOTT (IRD)
DISCOVERY OF AFTER-THE-FACT EMERGENCY CONDITION – ALERT DECLARATION NOT MADE DURING EVENT INVOLVING URANIUM HEXAFLUORIDE LEAK
On 10/26/14, Honeywell declared a ‘Plant Emergency’ at 1935 [CDT] in accordance with the Honeywell Emergency Response Plan due to a [Uranium Hexafluoride] UF6 leak on a primary cold trap. The incident was mitigated and the ‘All clear’ was declared at 0216 on 10/27/14. There were no injuries related to the incident. After review of additional observations and other evidence not directly involved with the response, Honeywell has determined that the event should have been upgraded at 1942 [CDT] on 10/26/14, to an ‘Alert’ classification per our classification criteria. This notification constitutes the NRC notification related to the incident. Honeywell is currently investigating the cause of the incident.
The licensee has notified NRC Region II and will notify state and local authorities.” http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/en.html
Recall that the Metropolis Illinois Congressional Representative’s top donor is Honeywell: https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?type=C&cid=N00004961&newMem=N&cycle=2014 (Center for Responsive Politics.)
Not surprising that he appears so close to Honeywell and so reassuring:
“Shimkus Statement on Honeywell
Oct 28, 2014 Press Release
WASHINGTON – Congressman John Shimkus (R-Illinois-15) released the following statement on the reported uranium hexafluoride release at the Honeywell plant in Metropolis:
“I have been closely following the reports from Metropolis over the last 48 hours; and today I spoke directly with the Honeywell plant manager, Jim Pritchett, and Mayor Billy McDaniel. I’ve been assured that Honeywell is cooperating fully with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and, while monitoring equipment detected no hazardous materials outside the plant, I am pleased the NRC is already on-site to do a full and thorough investigation.
The safety of my constituents in and around Metropolis is my utmost priority. As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, I work frequently with the NRC, an independent regulatory agency charged with nuclear safety. I have full confidence in their professionalism and commitment to public safety. As the investigation continues, I look forward to their updates.” http://shimkus.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/shimkus-statement-on-honeywell