Installation Summary - NEWPORT CHEMICAL DEPOT Page: 1 of 2
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NEWPORT CHEMICAL DEPOT
Newport Chemical Depot (NECD) is a government-owned, contractor-operated federal
property that has contained a number of plants used to manufacture military munitions. The
installation is located approximately 32 miles north of Terre Haute, (1-70) Ind., and about 35
miles south of Danville, Ill. (1-74). The town of Newport is three miles north of the main
gate. The depot is located on rolling plains near the Wabash River. The area is primarily
agricultural and the depot leases more than 5,000 acres of cultivated land to local farmers.
The four-lane Indiana State highway 63 runs parallel to and connects with US Highway 41,
which extends south from Lake Superior into Georgia. Newport Chemical Depot is subject
to all four seasons, and occasional windy conditions.
Square Footage of Buildings: 924,716 SF
Plant Replacement Value: $ 269,340,900
The Wabash River Ordnance Works was developed by the Army in 1941 on property that
was primarily residential and agricultural. Because of the war in Europe, the Army
purchased the properties and developed plans for a munitions factory. After Pearl Harbor,
development proceeded quickly and an RDX explosives plant was built and operational by
1942. Also in 1942, construction began on a smokeless powder plant but was halted and the
plant located in another state. A heavy-water pilot plant was constructed in support of the
Manhattan Project and placed into production during World War II. As many as 10,000
workers were involved in construction of the plant and 2,000 employed in production. The
factories wound down and fell into disrepair following the war but the plant was reactivated
in 1952 to support the war in Korea. A larger heavy water plant also was constructed in
1952. A chemical plant to produce Chemical Agent VX was constructed in 1962, using
some of the foundation and "footprint" from the recently-demolished heavy water plant. All
the VX manufactured for U.S. defense stockpiles was made at Newport. Munitions were
shipped to the site by rail, filled with chemical agent, and then shipped out to various defense
destinations. Though Newport never was intended as a storage site, when chemical agent
production was halted in 1968 and a moratorium on shipment declared in 1969, the final
inventory of bulk agent was "trapped" on site. Planning for a TNT Plant began in 1968 when
Vietnam conflict required new supplies of explosives for various shells and bombs.
Construction began in 1970. Only two of the five production lines were operational before
1975 when the plant was put into layaway, pending future defense needs. In the late 1990s,
the Army dismantled and disposed of the plant.
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United States. Department of Defense. Installation Summary - NEWPORT CHEMICAL DEPOT, text, September 12, 2005; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc21715/m1/1/: accessed November 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.