Fluoride Action Network

Uranium hexafluoride released from Metropolis Honeywell plant; residents concerned about lack of communication

WPSD | June 15, 2023 | By Jane Kim & Brayden Trimmel
Posted on June 15th, 2023
Location: United States, Illinois

METROPOLIS, IL — Honeywell has announced that uranium hexafluoride, a toxic chemical compound, was released from its Metropolis, Illinois, plant on Monday.

A nuclear engineer says uranium hexafluoride can have major health impacts.

Shannon Dassing lives near the facility and is looking to move away, but that’s not the only thing that’s on her mind.

Dassing says Honeywell wasn’t transparent about the release, and she’s concerned about the lack of communication.

She says the company didn’t reach out to her about the release of uranium hexafluoride.

“I found out word of mouth about 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” Dassing says.

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen says the radioactive compound can be harmful to the health of people exposed to it.

“It’s nasty,” said Gundersen. “Fluorides in general attack your skin violently. Fluorides are what they use to etch glass.” He’s referring to compounds like uranium hexafluoride, not the fluoride found in dental products and water.

Honeywell provided Local 6 with a statement Tuesday, which says the release was contained within the Honeywell site. The statement reads:

“On June 12, 2023, at approximately 9:08 a.m. CT, there was a release of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) at Honeywell’s Metropolis Works facility in Metropolis, IL. Our monitoring system did not detect any release outside of the Honeywell fence line. The release was contained to the site and a shelter in place was issued. Employees were evaluated on site for medical conditions and were approved to return to work. There were no significant injuries. The shelter in place was lifted and an all clear was issued at 11:55 a.m. CT. There was no threat to the local community. The safety and well-being of our employees and the community is our top priority. Honeywell is working with local authorities and has begun an investigation to determine the root cause of the incident.” 

However, Dassing is still concerned.

She’s currently one of a handful of people involved in lawsuits against Honeywell. She and her lawyer, Kevin Thompson, say her father died because of chemical exposure.

Thompson is calling for better regulation and communication between the company and people who live near the plant.

“Nobody really wants the plant to close,” Thompson says. “That plant can run safely and the community depends on it. Incidents like these I believe have to be investigated thoroughly and transparently.

Local 6 also reached out to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, specifically to talk about protocol in monitoring facilities like the one in Metropolis. We have yet to receive a response.

*Original full-text article online at: https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/newsletter_stories/uranium-hexafluoride-released-from-metropolis-honeywell-plant-residents-concerned-about-lack-of-communication/article_3cc6b27c-0a9c-11ee-95f6-d33fe819751e.html