San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Fixed With Sticky Tape, Broomsticks

The San Onofre nuclear power plant reboot may have run into another snag when a disgruntled (and anonymous) “inside source” gave a local news station a photograph of a December 2012 repair performed on the controversial facility.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has had a little problem with leaks in Unit Three since January 2012, and, for reasons that apparently seemed like a good idea at the time, SONGS made one repair with plastic bags, broomsticks, and masking tape.

Since the anonymous source was exclusive to San Diego’s Team 10 news station, you should go there to check out the ugly photographic proof.

San Onofre isn’t denying the allegation. Southern California Edison (SCE), which owns the troubled facility, shrugged it off as a quick fix at the currently closed location.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesman Victor Dricks provided a written response: “The condition represented in the photograph has been identified as a minor saltwater leak at Unit 3 and poses no danger to public health and safety.”

Well, allrighty then. Nothing to see here. Let’s move along.

But not everyone admires the cost-saving ingenuity displayed by the San Onofre nuclear plant repair staff.

In 2011, San Onofre hired Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace some generators. They lasted 11 months before they had to be shut down because of a radiation leak.

Repairing not just that leak but all of the other damage discovered in the aftermath of the shutdown could cost an estimated $553 million.

A former NRC employee, Dr. Joe Hopenfeld, has recently gone on the record in the news media to say that the San Onofre plant shouldn’t be reopened. He said that Mitsubishi simply wasn’t qualified to build generators that size and that the new facility is too dangerous.

In the interest of fairness, the units that will be reopened won’t include Unit Three, where the photograph was taken. Apparently, we can all agree that one’s hopeless.

The NRC hasn’t yet announced when — or if — SONGS will reopen.

What’s your take on the San Onofre nuclear power plant quick fix?

[San Onofre nuclear power plant photo by awnisALAN via Flickr and Creative Commons]