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Duke is cutting 585 jobs at Crystal River nuclear plant

Published May 3, 2013

Duke Energy issued a notice to the state this week that it intends to transfer or lay off 585 employees at the shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant over the next year or so.

The utility expects to begin layoffs May 31. As many as 58 workers face termination by June 30.

Duke announced in February that it would close the Crystal River plant. The reactor had sat idle for almost two and a half years after a botched maintenance and upgrade project.

Workers cut into and cracked the reactor's 42-inch thick concrete containment building while replacing old steam generators. An attempt to repair the crack and bring the plant back online resulted in more cracks.

The damage left Duke with a repair bill that could have reached $3.4 billion. In addition, the utility continued to amass replacement power costs of as much as $300 million a year while the reactor remained idle.

"After extensive engineering analysis and thoughtful, comprehensive review, the company determined that it was in the best interest of our customers, investors, state and company to retire the Crystal River Nuclear plant," Duke stated in its April 30 letter.

The utility said it plans to build a natural gas plant to replace the power generated by the nuclear plant. The gas plant isn't expected to come online until at least early 2018.

The gas plant, however, will employ fewer than 10 percent of the number of workers the nuclear plant employed.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332.

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