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Edison to Cut Staff by a Third at Shut San Onofre Nuclear Plant

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Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Edison International, owner of California’s second-largest electric utility, will reduce staff at its shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant by a third, saying one of the units may be out of service for “some time.”

Southern California Edison will cut 730 positions at San Onofre by the fourth quarter, the Rosemead, California-based company said yesterday in a statement. Staffing and costs at the site are significantly higher than comparable nuclear plants, the utility said.

San Onofre has been shut since January after federal regulators found unusual wear in steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water. The plant’s Unit 3 reactor, which had a tube leak in January, had more damage than Unit 2, and may need extensive repairs before restarting, the company said in a July 31 regulatory filing. Unit 2 was also shut in January for refueling and maintenance.

The utility must “be prudent with its future spending while Southern California Edison and regulators review the long-term viability of the nuclear power plant,” Edison said in the statement. “The reality is that the Unit 3 reactor will not be operating for some time.”

The shutdown has cost $165 million in inspection, repair and replacement power costs as of June 30, Edison said in a July 31 presentation to investors. The remaining workforce at San Onofre will be about 1,500, Edison said yesterday.

The effort to reduce costs at San Onofre started two years ago, the company said, adding that it had testified before California regulators about the anticipated job cuts.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last month that the tube wear at San Onofre was the result of faulty computer modeling and manufacturing issues. Edison must get the agency’s approval to restart either unit.

The nuclear plant is located about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Los Angeles and can produce 2,150 megawatts, or enough power for 1.4 million homes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net