WEST PALM BEACH, FL-Uncertainty over who would ultimately pay for environmental cleanup costs killed a deal between Pratt & Whitney’s space propulsion division here and Aerojet-General Corp. of Sacramento, CA, according to industry sources familiar with the transaction. The arrangement would have brought 400 rocket engineers from the California company to Florida and required expanding Pratt & Whitney’s quarters by another 100,000 sf, sources tell GlobeSt.com.

Aerojet-General, the defense segment of GenCorp Inc., and P&W had planned to form a new rocket propulsion company in northwestern Palm Beach County, about 80 miles north of Downtown Miami. P&W designs and builds rocket engines at the site. The company has 800 rocket engineers and 350 technicians, down from its peak work force of 8,300 in 1989.

In California, Aerojet has been spending $20 million annually to clean up rocket chemical dumping from past decades. The firm has a $330 million contingency fund for the cleanup. Indecision on how much Pratt & Whitney would contribute to future cleanup budgets killed the deal to form a new firm, sources tell GlobeSt.com.

P&W plans to relocate its military jet engine operations in Florida to its East Hartford, CT headquarters site by the first of the year. P&W would have qualified for $5 million in state tax credits and county grants if the deal with Aerojet had blossomed. P&W can still qualify for a $1 million country grant if it keeps 800 workers and opens up 200 new jobs over the next six years.

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