Bryan Cohen Jan. 10, 2014, 3:44pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a $90,000 agreement on Wednesday with Honeywell International Inc. to resolve allegations the company released hazardous chemicals at its Metropolis-based plant.

Honeywell produces uranium hexafluoride at its facility, a compound used in manufacturing nuclear reactor fuel for industrial and military electric utilities. Hydrogen fluoride, a highly dangerous gas, is used in the production process. Hydrogen fluoride can form corrosive hydrofluoric acid when it contacts with tissue and can cause blindness by rapidly destroying the cornea.

Under the terms of a consent order, Honeywell must pay $90,000 in civil penalties to resolve allegations its facility released hydrogen fluoride on three separate occasions. The company also completed a series of upgrades, as was required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Madigan's office.

"The dangerous air pollution from this plant posed a serious threat to Honeywell's neighbors," Madigan said. "We took action to hold the company responsible for failing to prevent these incidents while ensuring new measures have been implemented to avoid them in the future."

Honeywell's system upgrades included comprehensive changes to its emissions monitoring and raw materials handling systems that are meant to prevent the release of any dangerous chemicals at the facility in the future.

"Honeywell is committed to the safe operation of the Metropolis facility," company spokesman Peter Dalpe said.

"The incidents cited in today's settlement occurred two or more years ago and involved material releases that were below the state's own threshold for reportable quantities. For all three incidents, there were no injuries or impact to the community.

"The facility has already adopted the safety measures agreed to in the settlement and has since made significant additional investments in the plant and its processes to improve its safe operations."

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