The Honeywell Metropolis Works has completed upgrade work and today will begin restarting front-end operations, plant manager Larry Smith said in a Wednesday letter to employees.
Those operations include ore preparation work and green salt production.
“We have all worked very hard to get to this point, and this is an important step to get us back to a normal operating environment,” Smith wrote.
The plant closed last May for upgrades to make it compliant with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements put in place after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused a breakdown at a nuclear reactor there. The NRC inspection and decision was part of a federal assessment of all U.S. nuclear-related facilities.
The Metropolis Works converts uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride, UF6, a compound used to produce enriched uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants.
To begin the actual production processes and make UF6, Honeywell will need a final signoff from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Smith said he expects a restart decision in early July.
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.