The Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head is in line to receive $23 million to construct a chemical plant and an explosives facility under a federal defense appropriations bill approved by House and Senate conferees this month.

The base will receive $9.1 million to build a plant for manufacturing an explosive known as a cartridge-actuated device/propellant-actuated device (CAD/PAD), which provides the burst to help eject pilots from aircraft in emergencies or to deploy bombs, base officials said. The funding for this program was included at the request of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), his office said. Its inclusion in the House-Senate conference report means final passage is nearly certain.

The bill includes $13.9 million for building a facility for nitrate esters, compounds used to help transport weapons safely.

"The Indian Head division is thrilled about receiving these two military construction projects," base spokeswoman Chris Adams said. "This is the best news we've received in a long time here. It's a real morale booster for the organization."

Adams said Indian Head produces about 10 percent of the military's CAD/PAD explosives and is responsible for acquiring and storing the remaining 90 percent. Work on these explosives is now done in aging buildings scattered throughout the base, she said, and the funding will allow consolidation into one modern plant.

"There's definitely room for improvement when it comes to efficiency," she said.

Two chemical plants produce the nitrate esters on the base now. The single site will have lower maintenance and repair costs, Adams said, and allow the production of smaller, customized orders. She did not know when construction on the projects would begin but said similar military construction projects generally take about two to three years.