Well, this doesn't look good.
A shuttered California nuclear power plant's bid to reopen may have been dealt a blow -- in the minds of the public, at least -- with the publication of a picture that shows a leaky pipe being held together with masking tape, plastic bags and broom handles.
The San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California has not produced electricity since January 2012 due to the discovery of a radiation leak and other damaged components, according to the Associated Press. However, plant officials have asked regulators for permission to restart one of the reactors.
Southern California Edison (SCE), which operates the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to approve a reopening plan by early summer, according to local public television station KCET.
While that plan awaits approval, ABC affiliate 10 News published a potentially troubling photo of a leaky pipe in the plant being jerry-rigged with household items.
News 10's source said the picture was taken in Unit Three in December 2012. Unit Three is the sector that was leaking radiation in January of 2012, the station notes.
"[Staff] identified a small leak in the water box and will perform maintenance per our scheduling process," SCE spokeswoman Maureen Brown confirmed in a statement to 10 News. "In the meantime, plastic is in place to direct the water from the small leak to a drain."
But 10 News investigative reporter Mitch Blacher remains skeptical, noting that he had spoken to sources familiar with the plant's inner workings who expressed concern about the state of the plant.
Meanwhile, the plant continues to idle expensively. The AP reports that so far more than $100 million has been spent on repairs and inspections of San Onofre, with $444 million needed for replacement power costs.
After a delay in March, the NRC has said it will make its decision on whether to reopen part of the plant by June, according to San Clemente ABC affiliate KABC.