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Martin Marietta to bid for GE plant

The Cold War may be thawing, but American companies are heating up the competition to operate a factory in Largo that makes triggers for nuclear weapons. Martin Marietta Corp. announced Tuesday that it has opened an office two blocks from the Largo factory and will make a bid to operate it, according to Gail Rymer, the company's manager for community relations.

The factory is owned by the U.S. Energy Department and is currently operated by General Electric Co.

GE announced last November that it would not renew its management agreement when it expires in May 1992. GE did not like the risk of being responsible for such potential problems as hazardous waste clean-ups, said Shirley Cheatham, a GE spokeswoman.

Bethesda, Md.-based Martin Marietta already manages five plants for the Energy Department, all involved in the production of nuclear weapons.

Rymer said the nearby office will allow the 1,600 workers at the plant to ask questions about Martin Marietta. The company will also use the office as the base from which to make its bid.

The Energy Department is expected to ask officially for bids this month, said Rymer.

Allied-Signal Inc. also has set up an office near the Largo factory.