Locked out Metropolis uranium plant cited by OSHA, NRC, and EPA
Contact: John Paul Smith, 618.638.7894, email@example.com
Metropolis, IL - The Honeywell uranium conversion facility where USW workers remain locked out for more than one year has once again been cited for violations by a federal agency. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) cited the plant with 17 "serious" safety violations and a $119,000.00 fine on June 22.
"The OSHA violations further validate the USW claims that union members are the guardians of safety in the plant, and left to themselves, Honeywell will not ensure a true culture of safety first," said Darrell Lillie, USW Local 7-669 President.
Lillie declared, “The findings rebuke Honeywell for attempts to block the OSHA inspection and send a loud message management has something to hide on unsafe work practices that threaten our community outside the plant. You would think after a full year of locking out our experienced union workforce, Honeywell would negotiate in good faith to quickly settle the dispute that includes safety issues.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have also cited Honeywell with major violations since the lockout began in June 2010.
The USW leader says: “You begin to wonder about Honeywell’s credibility when you consider the nearly $12 million in federal fines Honeywell was forced to pay this past March for violations cited by the Environmental Protection Agency.” Lillie said the EPA had to get a search warrant to find nearly 7,500 drums of illegally stored toxic and radioactive waste.
According to the OSHA public report, an inspection was initiated under the agency’s national emphasis program on the Honeywell Metropolis facility that could potentially release hazardous chemicals into the surrounding community.
Violations cited by OSHA include:
- Allowing storage cylinders to be exposed to physical damage;
- Having inaccurate field verifications on tanks and values;
- Using equipment that was not in compliance with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices;
- Failing to have clear written operating instructions for processes such as unloading hydrogen fluoride into storage tanks and switching storage tanks;
- Failing to address human factors in relation to remote operating valves on the hydrogen fluoride storage tanks;
- Failing to document and resolve issues addressed by the process hazard analysis team;
- Failing to establish written procedures to maintain the integrity of process equipment;
- Failing to implement written emergency operating procedures for emptying hydrogen fluoride tanks;
- Failing to perform appropriate checks and inspections to ensure equipment was properly installed;
- Failing to establish and implement written procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, equipment and procedures
Honeywell plant management refused OSHA's right to conduct its inspection with an employee "walk-around rep." first on February 8, 2010, then again on February 18, 2010, despite the OSHA inspectors holding a federal warrant to do so.
According to Honeywell's website, safety is the top priority. Plant manager Larry Smith said, "This is our home town too." However, neither Mr. Smith, nor any other top level manager at the plant resides in Metropolis, or Massac County.
In their own words, Honeywell's Morristown, NJ based spokesman, Peter Dalpe, released a contradictory statement claiming, "none of the citations allege that the current operation of the plant is unsafe" then acknowledging, "the plant will work rapidly to resolve all of the OSHA concerns."
The violations pertain to current plant conditions, meaning Honeywell management is not meeting its obligations for maintaining a safe workplace during the lockout.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Peoria office at 309-589-7033. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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