Combustion Engineering

Combustion Engineering

Combustion Engineering in Windsor began working with nuclear materials in 1955.  Nuclear operations reportedly ceased around 2000 and an extensive remediation effort has been under way ever since. In late 2015 the majority of the buindings had been removed.
     The history of the C-E Windsor campus, which is currently sandwiched between tobacco fields and corporate office parks, dates to the early development of the nuclear submarine. From the mid-1950s through the early 1960s, Combustion Engineering, under federal government contract, produced nuclear fuel for U.S. Navy nuclear submarines. Also located at the Windsor site was the prototype marine nuclear propulsion training facility known as S1C, which was designed and constructed by C-E adjacent to its main campus. The S1C prototype was operated by C-E for more than 10 years as an R&D and Naval training facility. After expiration of C-E's contract, the S1C contract was subsequently awarded to Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL), who operated the unit until its decommissioning and dismantlement in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[8]

ABB, Inc. (formerly Combustion Engineering-Windsor) also manufactured commercial nuclear fuel at the site, which is bordered by Day Hill Road to the south. It continued doing so until 2001.

Also Known As: Asea Brown Boveri
Time Period: AWE 1965-1972; Residual Radiation 1973-October 2009   
Facility Type:   Atomic Weapons Employer   

Facility Description: Combustion Engineering (CE) sent shipments of uranium to Fernald between 1965 and 1972 for use in the nuclear weapons production process. It is because of these shipments that this site qualifies as an Atomic Weapons Employer for these years. Combustion Engineering performed substantial work for the Atomic Energy Commission in other years as well, but this work is not covered under EEOICPA because it was either non-nuclear or was not related to weapons production. Starting in the 1940s, this initial work at the site involved non-nuclear components. In 1955, CE began to use highly enriched uranium for its work in supporting the Naval Reactors Program. In the 1960s, CE obtained a license to fabricate fuel elements for power reactors.

One contributor wrote:
    "In 1985 I was employed by another branch of the government to undertake a field study of unrelated environmental elements in the Bloomfield/Windsor area and while I knew that C.E. was engaged in nuclear fuel rod manufacturing and maintained a secure site I felt obligated to try to get in as several of my designated monitoring points were on the C.E. campus.
    I parked next to the main guard house and walked inside.  I explained to the duty officer what I was doing and they called for a supervisor.  While I was waiting I saw a large annunciator panel on the wall behind the guard with alarm lights for such things as "Reactor Room Hi Temp", "Reactor Room Radiation Alarm" and other things which made me think that C.E. was doing much more than just fuel rod fabrication (although in hind sight those alarms might have been left over from the time C.E. owned the Nuclear Power Training Unit at the Knoll Labs adjacent to the C.E. campus.)

     The security supervisor had a Wakenhut patch on his arm and after explaining to him what I wanted to do he authorized my access to the campus with the following provisions:
     1.   I had to travel in a C.E. security vehicle.
     2.   I had to be accompanied by a security guard at all times.
     3.   They would have to inspect my monitoring equipment in advance.
     4.   Certain areas would be off limits and I wouldn't know which ones until I happened to get too close to one of them.
      So after inspecting my equipment I was assigned a car and driver and instructed to point out where I wanted to take the measurements.  After stopping at about a half dozen locations without incident I identified a point in the access road about 50' in front of a large warehouse type building that was surrounded by double chain link fencing.  The driver didn't object, pulled over and stood next to me while I took out my equipment started to do my work.
  A moment later a very angry uniformed armed guard emerged from the guard house in front of the nearby building and stated screaming at the guard who was accompanying me that she was in a restricted area.  Much to my surprise this guard was wearing a patch from a competing security firm so whatever was in this building had its own security force independent from the regular Wakenhut C.E. workers.  We were forced to move on to the next point which was adjacent to a large fenced in compound with radiation warning signs on the fence.  Looking inside I saw dozens of huge machines that were so badly mangled and burned  that they looked as if they had come from the space shuttle Challenger disaster.  There were huge steel I-beams which were melted into pretzel shapes.  I asked the guard what had happened and her only response was "those are some of our projects that didn't work out so well . . .  
     "The rest of my visit was uneventful but such was not the case with my visit to the Knoll Atomic Labs next door."

Buildings at CE used for cold war work
involving nuclear materials.

Remediation complete.

Aerial view of the C.E. campus, date unknown.

Combustion Engineering campus map.  Legend:
1      NPS Storage
1A   NPS Storage
2     Test Facility NPS Engineering Development & Services
2A  NPS Engineering Development & Services Facility
2M  NPS Technical Services.
3     Kreisinger Development Laboratory - FPS
3A   Kreisinger Development Laboratory Office - FPS
4     Power Systems Group Administration & Engineering.
5     NPS Engineering Development Laboratory.
6     Hot Waste Retention Vault.
6A  Facilities Engineering and Services.
7     Central Boiler House and Chilling Plant.
7A  Central Receiving and Fire Engine Storage.
8     East Guard House
9    Cooling Towers
10    Sewage and Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant
11   Fire Pumping House.
12   NPS Engineering and Development.
13   West Guard Gate.
14   General & Executive Dining Facility, PSG Serv ices
14A Shower/Locker Room Facility.
15   Facilities and Engineering Services.
16   NPS Engineering Development Laboratory.
17   Nuclear Products Mfg. Fuel Fabrication Facility.
18   NPS Engineering Development Laboratory.
19  General Offices.
20  Facilities Engineering and Services.
21  Nuclear Products Manufacturing Warehouse.
22. General Offices and Simulator.
23  General Offices.
24  General Offices.
CG  Coal Gassification - PDU.
FSDC  Firring System Development Complex.
CU  Credit Union.

Formally Utilized Sites Remediation Action Plan (FUSRAP) clean up of the C.E. Windsor site started in 2010.


From the early 1960s to the sale of nuclear operations to Westinghouse in 2000, Combustion Engineering (CE) and ABB provided fuel and reactor technology for commercial nuclear power plants. During this time CE was awarded the contract to provide the reactor vessel for the world’s first commercial-sized nuclear electricity generation station. The company soon became one of the top three suppliers of nuclear steam supply systems in the United States.


During the 1970s and 80s, CE expanded its research and development directly related to fossil fuels for such technologies as coal-water fuel mixtures, commercialization of coal gasification and fluidized bed combustion, allowing utilities to burn lower grade fuels cleanly and efficiently without adding sulfur dioxide removal systems.


ABB acquired Combustion Engineering in 1990.


Almost immediately after the cleanup program for the site went into effect, ABB entered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Voluntary Corrective Action program for the remediation of chemicals associated with commercial fuel research and production on the site. Today only 30 percent of chemicals in the site environment remain to be remedialed in the Final Phase along with the radiological contamination resulting from work conducted under government contract from 1956 to 1961.


Along the way, ABB had to interface with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. EPA, The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Army Corps of Engineers who were responsible for remedialing the contamination. ABB worked its way through the myriad of regulations and standards that each agency required, sometimes conflicting with one another.


As the remediation got underway, ABB selected MACTEC Engineering, one of the industry’s most capable and experienced environmental services contractor that has $300 million in environmental services contracts annually and has completed remediation of more than 400 properties under contract with the Department of Energy.


Today, the ABB / MACTEC team has the knowledge and experience in dealing with various regulatory agencies, the experience in remedialing chemical and radiological contamination, and interfacing with the Windsor community. The ABB/MACTEC team is prepared to take the experience gained over the past eight years and apply it to the final phase of the cleanup.



The first building erected on the site in 1956 by Combustion Engineering Inc. is now a permanent feature in the history of the State of Connecticut. Built under contract with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) the building was part of the work performed to support the Navy’s early nuclear submarine fuel development program.


Combustion Engineering also designed and constructed a prototype submarine reactor known as the S1C (Submarine 1 Combustion). It was the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in Connecticut and the prototype for the USS Tullibee, an early advanced design fast-attack submarine. The reactor was shut down in 1993 at the end of the Cold War, and dismantled in 2000.


More than 14,000 naval personnel were trained on the simulator. In 1960, the S1C site was sold to the U.S. government although CE continued to manage operations until 1970, when Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) took over operations. In 2006, the site was released without any restrictions – the first-ever unrestricted radiological and chemical release of a nuclear reactor site.


Radiological and Chemical Residues

As a result of early nuclear-related operations, chemicals and radiological elements entered the environment at the site. At that time, the knowledge of the full impact of these elements on human health and the environment had yet to be realized. Today every precaution has been taken to contain and dispose of the contaminants according to state and federal regulations in order to protect workers on site and the public in general.


In 2011, we expect Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) remediation to be substantially complete. We expect to have the Site Brook remedialed and restored as well as all other areas completed. If all goes as planned, CE expects the Corps to sign off on completion of the FUSRAP remediation by 2012.  The treatment of impacted groundwater will be completed in 2012 following the completion of excavation of radiological impacted soils in the FUSRAP areas. Groundwater monitoring may continue for some years after treatment is initiated.


The radiological cleanup at the Windsor site is planned to meet resident farmer standards.  This cleanup standard is a scenario in which a person could live on the site and be able to get water and grow food on the site safely for 40 years. This is the strictest standard of radiological cleanup.


The goal on the chemical side is to clean up to residential standards.

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