Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sierra Club RAW: A Nuke by Any Other Name

RAW: Uncooked Truth, Beyond Belief

Issue #228
Sept 28, 2007
A Nuke by Any Other Name
David Willett

The English language, it's constantly changing, evolving if you will (if you believe in that "theory"). And no one has done more to further the evolution of the language than politicians, particularly in the Bush administration. You've heard it before--cutting down trees? New phrase for that: "Healthy Forests." Weakening clean air laws? Now in Webster's under the heading "Clear Skies." The classic story is of course Reagan reportedly defining ketchup as a vegetable for school lunches.

Well the latest change to the dictionary is more of a subtraction than an addition. According to Bloomberg News it seems that the nuclear industry was worried about how long it takes to start building a new nuclear power plant (there hasn't been one in about 30 years although a new petition for a permit was just filed this week in Texas). Apparently part of the reason it takes so long is that you can't actually start "construction" of the next Three Mile Island without first having all the proper permits in place--you know, those annoying bureaucratic papers that prove that your project isn't going to destroy the local environment or grow fish with three eyes like Blinky from The Simpsons.

Of course the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to help out their friends in the nuke industry. So they did what comes naturally these days, they changed the definition of "construction."

So, it may surprise you to learn that excavating no longer counts as construction, nor does road-building on the site, or even erecting cooling towers! This way the bulldozers can be rolling on the site even while those pesky concerned citizens attempt to tell their public officials they don't want a new stockpile of radioactive waste in their backyard. "What? That's not cconstruction, that's uh, that's just some guys with backhoes and bulldozers um, playing a really long game of dig-the-biggest-hole. Didn't you do that as a kid?"

Keep that up long enough and the company will argue that so much has already been invested in the plant that it would be a (nuclear) waste not to finish the facility and bring it online. Yes words can be such a useful tool as long as it you don't take them literally.

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