NRC staff members will hold public meetings on May 16 and 17 to discuss the performance of the Honeywell plant in Metropolis, Illinois, and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky. The NRC also will hold a separate meeting on May 16 in Paducah to provide information on recent revisions to the agency's oversight program for nuclear fuel cycle facilities.
In the first meeting, staff members will address the safety performance of the Honeywell Specialty Chemicals plant from February 1999, until January 2001. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. CDT May 16 at the Massac County Courthouse, located at 10th and Metropolis in Metropolis.
NRC officials said that the Honeywell plant had conducted its activities safely during the review period, but improvement was needed in following procedures related to complying with regulatory requirements and conditions of the plant's operating license. The Honeywell plant is the only facility in the nation that converts natural uranium to uranium hexafluroide, or UF6, the feed material used by the United States Enrichment Corp. plants in Paducah and Portsmouth, Ohio.
In the second meeting, an NRC official will review how the agency plans to revise its oversight program for nuclear fuel facilities such as gaseous diffusion plants, high and low enriched uranium fuel fabrication facilities, and the uranium hexaflouride production facility in Metropolis, Illinois. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. CDT May 16 at the Information Age Park Resource Center, 2000 McCracken Blvd., in Paducah.
The revisions are intended to make the oversight program more risk-informed and performance-based. Other goals of the revised program are to provide earlier and more objective indications of a facility's performance in the areas of safety and national security, increase interested parties' confidence in the NRC, and increase regulatory effectiveness, efficiency and realism. The May 16 meeting will focus on the revisions and how interested parties can offer suggestions. The proposed revisions are described in NRC documents SECY-99-188 and SECY-00-0222.
In the third meeting, staff members will address the safety performance of the Paducah plant from October 1998 to December 2000. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. May 17 at the Paducah Information Age Park, located at 2000 McCracken Blvd., in Paducah.
NRC officials said the Paducah plant continues to conduct its activities safely and continues to safeguard nuclear material, but that the following areas needed improvement: managing the impact of aging fire protection equipment on safety; attention to detail in implementing plant procedures; identifying root causes for events and then developing long term corrective actions; and the documentation and determination of nuclear criticality safety controls. Criticality controls refers to the use of such things as concentration limits and spacing to maintain safe operating conditions in places and processes using enriched uranium.
NRC staff members will be available at the close of each of the three meetings to answer questions from the news media and the public.