METROPOLIS— A Southern Illinois plant that helps make nuclear fuel is firing up its production again after a yearlong shutdown due to federally requested upgrades.
The Honeywell plant in Metropolis is scheduled to resume operations Wednesday, a little more than a week after the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave the green light for the plant to again refine raw uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride. That’s later processed into fuel for commercial power reactors.
The plant has been closed since May of last year after the commission ordered Honeywell to make the site able to withstand an earthquake or tornado. The plant also had to revise its emergency response plans for natural disasters. The NRC inspection and decision was part of a federal assessment of all U.S. nuclear-related facilities.
The company in recent months has been hiring back workers, among other things, to get them retrained. About 135 salaried and 135 hourly employees will be in place when the Metropolis Works facility restarts, the company projects.
The re-opening is financially important to the Metropolis area.
Unionized steelworkers were idled during a yearlong labor dispute and had only just returned to work before being laid off again because of the May 2012 closure.