Honeywell continues to investigate chemical leak

The Metropolis, IL Honeywell plant is not producing product right now as investigators look into why a chemical compound leaked out Saturday afternoon.

Honeywell spokesperson Peter Dalpe says they're working to find out how much UF6 or uranium hexafluoride was released. A release of this same chemical happened back in October of 2014.

“I guess its 3000 ft. away from our house, and if I can't smell anything yet  I'm going to get as far away from it as I can,” Elliot said.

It’s that close distance from the Honeywell Plant that made Jim Elliot leave with his daughter Abigail and two dogs instead of listening to an automated call.

“We were told to turn off the air conditioner, close all the windows, and stay in the house,” Elliot said.    

Crews spent two hours cleaning up a UF6 chemical leak at the plant reported around 6 Saturday night.

"This is two in 11 years,” Elliot said.

The Environmental Management website says UF6 or uranium hexafluoride is not really dangerous unless it’s ingested.  However, when it reacts with water vapor it breaks down into UO2F2 and hydrogen fluoride. UO2F2 is heavier than air and falls to the ground.  HF is a gas that rises and is a potentially hazardous substance when inhaled in large amounts.

Dalpe says this reaction happens because of the water present in the air, not because of the water Honeywell sprays on the material. He says the most effective way to weaken an HF cloud is to spray it with water knocking the cloud down and diluting the HF until you end up with small amounts of fluoride mixed with water.

Dalpe says there is no evidence the leak impacted anybody and despite the Plant's proximity, Elliott says he feels safe. Elliot appreciates the call system, but next time would like a more resounding alert.

“If a siren were to sound we wound know what that meant. If we were outside we would not have heard the phone, which in the summertime most people are going to be outside,” Elliot said.

Giving them peace of mind that they'll know, if there's ever an emergency in the future.

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