Fluoride Action Network

Illinois: Calcium fluoride pond closure project at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant

Source: Name of Newspaper or source | March 11th, 2011
Industry type: Nuclear Industry

Honeywell uranium conversion plant, Metropolis, Illinois

NRC License No. SUB-526, Docket No. 04003392


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NRC Facility Info (Decommissioning)

Calcium FLUORIDE pond closure project at Honeywell Metropolis conversion plant

Honeywell pays US$ 12 million fine for illegal waste storage at Metropolis conversion plant

On March 11, 2011, Honeywell announced that it has resolved a U.S. government investigation into permitting and storage issues at its Metropolis, Ill., facility.

As part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the company will pay a total of $12 million in fines and supplemental environmental projects to resolve the matter, which involved the storage of a regulated material without a proper permit.

Residents concerned about Honeywell’s plan to close old calcium fluoride ponds at Metropolis conversion plant by in situ cementation

The plan has outraged several people in Southern Illinois, as they are concerned about the possibility of the ponds leaking and creating a disaster in the region.

“It is a concern; (the waste) is there,” said Mike Riley, a former longtime Honeywell employee who is now the USW’s health and local safety representative. “I don’t see how putting concrete with it is going to get rid of the problem.”

In 2000, an EPA report on stabilization and solidification projects at badly polluted sites across the country found that concentrations of toxins at those sites were reduced enough to generally meet government standards. Unfortunately, the EPA also noted in the same report that the long-term effectiveness of solidification and stabilization is unknown. The EPA quoted various studies showing that “cement-based stabilized wastes are vulnerable to the same physical and chemical degradation processes as concrete and other cement-based materials,” which means they have the “potential to disintegrate over a period of 50 to 100 years.”

That timeframe is what concerns Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel. “I want it where, 50 years from now in our community, we don’t have an issue at Honeywell or at any other plant, that could be taking lives or having babies born with deformities,” McDaniel said. “We want things done right, and in the right way, the first time.” (The Southern Jan. 23, 2011)

Download: Solidification/Stabilization Use at Superfund Sites , EPA-542-R00-010, U.S. EPA, September 2000, 23 p. (Enter search term: 542R00010)

Honeywell submits decommissioning plan for closure of old calcium fluoride ponds at Metropolis conversion plant

On December 2, 2010, Honeywell submitted a decommissioning plan related to closure of existing surface impoundments at the Metropolis Works facility.

Honeywell submits license amendment request for closure of old calcium fluoride ponds at Metropolis conversion plant by in situ cementation

“Honeywell International, Inc. is the holder of Source Materials License No. SUB-526 (NRC License), a 10 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 40 license last renewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2007. Under this license, the licensee operates its Honeywell Metropolis Works, Inc. (MTW) formerly ”Allied Signal” (Allied) plant at Metropolis, Illinois, where it converts uranium ore concentrates to uranium hexafluoride (UF6) by the ”fluoride volatility process.””

“This license amendment request relates to an area of the MTW site known as the CaF2 Pond Area, where MTW formerly precipitated calcium fluoride (CaF2). The CaF2 Pond Area includes four surface impoundments known as Ponds B, C, D, and E. Pond A was closed in 2001 and the CaF2 materials removed from the site.

Ponds B, C, D, and E were constructed from 1974 through 1979 and currently store CaF2 materials which contain trace amounts of natural radioactive isotopes including, but not limited to uranium and thorium. This material was generated prior to 1982 when MTW used a fluoride removal process that involved use of calcium hydroxide to precipitate calcium fluoride in the ponds. The installation of a CaF2 recovery system in 1982 curtailed the use of the ponds for calcium fluoride precipitation. Currently, no material is discharged to Ponds B, C and E, and Pond D only receives flow from MTW’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitted wastewater treatment system prior to discharge at permitted Outfall 002.

MTW is required by its RCRA permit to close Ponds B, C, D and E by 2020. As part of the closure process, MTW has submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) an application to modify MTW’s RCRA permit to close the ponds in place using in situ sludge stabilization with a pozzolanic cement material, construction of an engineered cap and long-term maintenance.” [emphasis added]

The four ponds cover a combined surface area of 23,900 square metres and contain a combined volume of 88,100 cubic yards [67,357 cubic metres] of CaF2 sludge.

The uranium concentration in the sludge is in the 200 – 300 ppm U (0.02 – 0.03% U) range, so the total uranium contents is approximately in the 20 – 30 t U range. [The uranium concentration is higher than that found in several uranium deposits currently being developed for mining in Namibia, such as Trekkopje, Valencia, and Etango.]

Download Honeywell Presentation Oct. 5, 2010 (278k PDF)

Download: License Amendment Request Report, US NRC License Number SUB-526, Closure of Surface Impoundment Ponds B, C, D, and E, Honeywell International, Inc., Metropolis Works, Metropolis, IL, Nov. 22, 2010:

Authorities investigate compliance of storage of sludges generated by Metropolis conversion plant (Illinois)

The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Justice (“federal authorities”) are investigating whether the storage of certain sludges generated during uranium hexafluoride production at our Metropolis, Illinois facility has been in compliance with the requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The federal authorities have convened a grand jury in this matter. (Honeywell International Inc., Quarterly Report 10-Q, April 23, 2010)