Nearly 5,000 people lost their contracting jobs at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant on Monday afternoon as SCE&G and Santee Cooper announced that they are abandoning the construction of two nuclear reactors at the plant. Many employees got word of the massive layoffs just before lunch.
"We met at our lunch location and they read these letters to us, telling us that the project will not continue as of today," says Sharrod Brown. "It was good money. It kept the community up, now the community is going to go down, families are going to struggle, people have to move back home and nobody is guaranteed anything."
The announcement came a few months after the main contractor of the project, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy.
While there were rumors that the layoffs were coming, it still came as a shock to many who moved to Fairfield County for the job.
"I mean I brought my whole family down here with me," says Jose Gonzalez, who moved from Texas two months ago. "It's a big change because when I came down here, everybody said, oh it's going to be here for years. We have a lot of work to do. It's just a big disappointment, especially when the project is more than halfway done."
"I've never experienced anything like that," says William Kearns, who moved to the area for work one month ago. "I came from commercial side more than industrial, but even then I've never heard of them laying off 5,000 employees all in one shot."
"It would've been nice if they would have told us a few weeks ago like 'Hey, you might want to start preparing,' but it is what it is," says Paul Vincent. He's been on the job for eight months.
There are thoughts that construction could continue one day, but for now, the livelihoods of thousands of people are changing.