Employees are having a hard time with the reality of losing their jobs in the closure of the San Onofre power plant. Nearly 900 employees will be laid off by Labor Day, and as the plant prepares to close, another 200 will be let go next year.
"It was a shock," said Dan Dominguez, longtime employee and nuclear reactor operator. "Thirty-one years and then it's over and done with."
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has not produced electricity since January 2012, when a water leak was discovered in the tubes of the steam generators.
In June, word came that the power switch would be turned off permanently when Edison announced it couldn’t afford to keep the plant open and replace the electricity needed to provide power to 1.5 million customers.
Timeline: Shutdown of San Onofre
"Edison kept saying they planned to restart unit two, so when they told us in June they were closing, it was a shock," employee Sharon Anstaett said.
While nuclear activists applauded the plan to close, 1500 plant workers learned that 900 of them would be laid off by Labor Day.
One such worker is Rob Howard, whose life is at risk of being uprooted if he wants to stay in this field.
"The reactor operator piece is so specialized, if I want to do it again, I have to start from the bottom," Howard said.
Howard said he would have to relocate if he wanted to remain in the industry, but he would still risk whether his license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would transfer to another plant.
The defueling process at the plant started earlier this month, and Edison officials said they will focus on storing the spent fuel.
As the plant prepares to close, another 200 people will be laid off next year. Company officials have held job fairs at the plant in hopes of easing the workers' transitions, but workers say the toughest part is the uncertainty of not knowing whether their jobs will last six weeks or six years.
"We're all going to have our last day there," Anstaett said. "We just don't know when."
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