Honeywell to upgrade nuclear plant to improve safety

Reuters News

7/11/2012 5:41:21 PM - Reuters News

(Reuters) - Honeywell International Inc said it is evaluating upgrades to its Metropolis Works nuclear conversion plant, following a regulatory inspection that looked at preparedness for natural disasters such as strong earthquakes and tornadoes.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspected Honeywell's Metropolis Works in Illinois as part of a comprehensive assessment of all U.S. nuclear-related facilities in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The company said it will not restart production at the facility, which has been under maintenance since May, until an agreement is reached with the NRC.

Honeywell said the production halt will not have an impact on the company's earnings forecast for 2012.

The time line for the halt and the nature of the upgrades have not been determined, Honeywell said in a statement.

The company said it could take 12 to 15 months to complete the upgrades and that it could halve its full-time workforce during this period.

The chemical plant, which normally employs 332 employees when in full production, converts uranium ore into a compound that can be used to produce enriched uranium.

Honeywell's shares closed at $53.70 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Tej Sapru in Bangalore; Editing by Viraj Nair)