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Crystal River local: power plant closing is ‘complete devastation’

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More than 600 people may lose their jobs when Duke Energy closes its Crystal River nuclear power plant.

Duke Energy, which took over the power plant after merging with Progress Energy, made the announcement Tuesday about the plant’s closing. It follows a 2009 discovery of a crack during a refueling process in one of the north Tampa buildings.

The announcement had been made with its employees in mind, said company spokeswoman Suzanne Grant.

“We used a wide variety of communication forms to get the information to all of our employees as quickly as we could,” Grant said.

Crystal River's nuclear plant is now scheduled to close, costing the area as many as 600 jobs.

The potential for such a large number of layoffs has the whole town talking.

Winnie Umhoefer, manager of Mama Sally’s restaurant, has been serving locals for the past 15 years.

“The people that are out at the power plant, that’s the people they should be focused on,” Umhoefer said. “Yesterday they had it all, and today they have nothing.”

She said a woman who was planning to retire in a couple of years came into the restaurant from the plant Wednesday, saying it was just too depressing there.

“It’s complete devastation in this area,” Umhoefer said.

Duke Energy says it will try to relocate employees into other facilities, like ones in North or South Carolina.

Rachel Jones wrote this story online.

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