Stratford Army Engine Plant | Wikipedia audio article


The Stratford Army Engine Plant (SAEP) was
a U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command installation and manufacturing facility
located in Stratford, Connecticut, where it was sited along the Housatonic River and Main
Street, opposite Sikorsky Airport.==History==Prior to 1927, the SAEP property was farmland. The plant was originally built in 1929 as
Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporations’s manufacturing facility. It occupied a 124-acre (50 ha) tract and included
49 industrial buildings and an earthen causeway that was built 800 feet (240 m) into the Housatonic
River mudflats to provide for access by seaplanes. The Sikorsky S-39, Sikorsky S-40 “Flying Forest”,
Sikorsky S-41, Sikorsky S-42 “Clipper” and Sikorsky S-43 “Baby Clipper” were built in
this plant, which had a seaplane ramp for launching the aircraft into the Housatonic
River. When sales of amphibians fell in the late
1930s, due to the growing popularity of land-based aircraft, Sikorsky was merged with the Chance
Vought Company by their parent United Aircraft in 1938. The Vought-Sikorsky company then built the
Vought-Sikorsky VS-44, Vought-Sikorsky OS2U Kingfisher, Vought-Sikorsky F4U Corsair and
Vought-Sikorsky V-173 in the facility.After the combined company was broken into Vought
Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft in January 1943, Vought built the Vought TBY Sea Wolf,
Vought XF5U, Vought F6U Pirate and prototype Vought F7U Cutlass in the facility. Igor Sikorsky, given $250,000 for helicopter
development by United Aircraft, also developed the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300, Vought-Sikorsky
VS-316 R-4, Vought-Sikorsky VS-327 R-5 and Vought-Sikorsky VS-316B R-6 in the plant. Sikorsky’s production was moved to a plant
in Bridgeport Connecticut in 1943 and Vought production was moved to an empty US government
facility in Dallas Texas in 1949. In 1954 Sikorsky moved the majority of their
manufacturing to a new plant on the north side of Stratford, further up the Housatonic
River. This move left the Stratford plant vacant,
and soon afterward, flooding from the Housatonic River damaged much of the facility. In 1951 the US Air Force had purchased the
facility and renamed it Air Force Plant No. 43. Avco Corporation became the contractor operating
the plant, repaired the damaged buildings, and built dikes. the same year Avco moved its division Lycoming
into the plant, which was a contractor to the U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command and
began manufacturing Wright R-1820 piston engines and General Electric J47 components there. In 1952 Lycoming had Anselm Franz set up a
turbine engine development effort in the plant and the Lycoming T53, Lycoming T55, Lycoming
PLF1, Lycoming LTS101/LPT101, Lycoming ALF 502, Lycoming AGT1500 and Lycoming TF-40 turbine
engines were all designed, developed and manufactured in this facility. By 1968, 10,000 people were employed in the
plant. In 1976, the plant was transferred from the
Air Force to the Army and renamed the ‘Stratford Army Engine Plant’. Production of the LTS-101 and LPT-101 turbine
engines was moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania beginning in 1980. In 1987 Avco was purchased by Textron to become
Textron Lycoming and in 1995, Allied Signal acquired the Lycoming Turbine Engine Division
in Stratford. By this time, employment in the plant had
fallen to 2,900 people.In July 1995 the Base Realignment and Closure of the United States
Department of Defense, recommended closure of the plant. In late 1995, Allied Signal announced that
production would be shifted to its facility in Phoenix Arizona. On 30 September 1998, Allied Signal concluded
operations in the plant and returned it to the US Army. AGT1500 production was shifted by the Army
to the Anniston Army Depot (ANAD)in Anniston, Alabama.For the next 11 years the Army was
involved with “Team Stratford” to develop the property. On 19 March 2008 the United States Army auctioned
the 78-acre (320,000 m2) site off with a winning bid of $9,612,000 which also included the
1,720,000-square-foot (160,000 m2) facility of over 50 buildings. This bid failed to be paid off and was placed
for rebid. Robert Hartmann of Hartmann Development has
a $1 billion plan to develop the former plant into a destination resort, dependent on the
US government selling him the entire property for one dollar.The Connecticut Air and Space
Center occupies part of the site.==Environmental contamination==
Investigation of the brownfield to understand the extent of releases and to determine cleanup
are ongoing as of 2014. The wastes of nearly 70 years of aircraft
construction included waste oil, fuels, solvents, and paints. An on-site chemical waste treatment plant
released effluent to the Housatonic River under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System permit. Beginning in 1980, waste lagoons were regulated
under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and part of a ‘treatment, storage,
or disposal facility’. The lagoons were closed under RCRA during
the 1980s. In 1983 the plant was cited for violations
of the Toxic Substances Control Act regarding reporting of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing
transformers.Subsurface investigations in 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1986, a 1991 Environmental
Baseline Survey/Preliminary Assessment Screening by the Corps of Engineers, a 1993 Remedial
Investigation Report and a 1996 Environmental Baseline Survey Report have been done. Areas of environmental concern include: “Intertidal
Flats where runoff and effluent have contaminated sediments with PCBs and metals; a Shoreline
Fill Area where subsurface soil and groundwater are contaminated with fuel-related and halogenated
volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and metals;
the Plating and Manufacturing Area, where “greenish-blue” groundwater pumped from the
area has been documented to contain metals including chromium and lead, halogenated VOCs,
PAHs, and cyanide; the Building B-2/North Parking Lot/West Parking Lot area, where subsurface
soils comprise ash and cinder fill and contain PAHs and groundwater is contaminated with
halogenated VOCs; Building B-65, where chromium- and petroleum-contaminated soils were discovered;
the Research and Development Area, where subsurface soil and groundwater contamination is suspected;
the South Parking Lot/Chemical Waste Treatment Plant/Closed Lagoons area, where halogenated
VOCs and metals have been detected in groundwater; and the Testing Area, where subsurface soils
are contaminated with fuel-related and halogenated VOCs and PAHs, and groundwater is contaminated
with halogenated VOCs.” Furthermore, surface water and sediment samples
downstream of the plant show contamination with halogenated VOCs, PCBs, and metals. Numerous monitoring wells downgradient of
the sources on the plant have been dug, and ground water samples also contain fuel-related
and halogenated VOCs and metals.==Remediation==
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) leads oversight of the site’s
environmental remediation. Before selling the property to the developer
‘Point Stratford Renewal’ DEEP and the U.S. Army as of June 2014 still need to agree on
the degree of clean up the Housatonic riverbed. Residential developers have shown the most
interest as of 2014, planning up to 1,500 residential units. Point
Stratford Renewal is a collaboration of the three Connecticut companies Loureiro Properties
LLC, Development Resources LLC and Sedgwick Partners LLC. In May 2014 the State House of Representatives
and the State Senate had passed a bill to create a special tax district at the plant
to levy taxes and issue bonds. This will help finance the redevelopment project,
particularly road construction, sewage systems, and environmental remediation

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