San Onofre layoffs: 730 employees to lose jobs at nuclear plant

A runner passes by the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on April 6, 2012.
A runner passes by the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on April 6, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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The San Onofre nuclear power plant has been shut down for nearly seven months. Now, plant operator Southern California Edison plans to cut 730 employees at the facility.

Southern California Edison said the layoffs come after two years of analyzing staffing at similar nuclear power plants. The staff reductions are expected to start in the next month, leaving 1,500 employees at the plant.

San Onofre has been offline since Jan. 31, when a steam leak exposed problems with tubes that carry radioactive water. Officials said a small amount of radioactive steam leaked into the atmosphere, but there was no danger to plant employees or nearby residents.

While the plant has been shut down, Southern California Edison has been buying electricity on the open market. Those costs, and the costs of repairs, were cited by the company as one reason for the layoffs.

Opponents of the nuclear plant say it’s too dangerous to be restarted and it should be shut down permanently. Activists also said ratepayers should not bear repair costs.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation blamed a faulty computer analysis for steam generator design flaws, which caused the unusual wear on steam tubes.

Southern California Edison said there is no timeline for restarting the plant’s two nuclear reactors. In a statement, the company hinted that one of the reactors, Unit 3, may not be restarted for “some time.”