Utah Selected as New Site for Rocket Fuel Plant Destroyed by Explosion

United Press International

The Nevada chemical company whose rocket fuel plant was destroyed by a May 4 explosion will rebuild in southern Utah, officials announced Wednesday.

Pacific Engineering & Production Co. selected a location about 15 miles west of Cedar City over two Nevada sites for the $23-million plant, said Fred Gibson, company chief executive officer, and general counsel Keith Rooker.

"Selection of the Iron County site results from the pressing national requirement for ammonium perchlorate," Rooker said in a joint news conference with Gov. Norman Bangerter at the state Capitol.

The Pacific Engineering plant in Henderson, Nev., was one of only two in the nation manufacturing ammonium perchlorate, which is crucial in all solid fuel missiles and rockets, including space shuttle boosters. The only other ammonium perchlorate factory, also in Henderson, is owned by Kerr-McGee Inc.

The choice of the 4,800-acre Utah site, about 250 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, "is based on the belief that this is the only available site at which construction can proceed on the required expedited schedule," Rooker said.

Company officials repeated a pledge to be in production by Feb. 1. Rooker said he expects crews to begin site preparation next week. The plant will have the capacity to manufacture 40 million pounds of the ammonium perchlorate yearly. It will initially employ about 70 workers. As many as 150 people will be employed when the plant reaches full production.

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