When Civilians Who Don't Understand The Terminology Attack
A columnist for the New York Daily News had a story on Saturday wherein he questioned Sen. McCain's oft-repeated claim that the U.S. Navy has never had a nuclear accident. The columnist did a lot of research for the story in listing what he claimed were U.S. submarine nuclear "accidents"; specifically, he went to this Wikipedia article and copied down the few resin and coolant discharge incidents in port the nuclear Navy has suffered in the last 55 years; all the incidents he listed were from back in the '70s. Not once did he direct his readers to this "Fact Check" story in the St. Petersburg Times that listed Sen. McCain's claim of zero accidents as "True". (He also confused nuclear weapons accidents with nuclear reactor ones, and included quite a few Russian Navy problems in his numbers.)
While it's clear that the editorial writer had his own anti-nuclear (and maybe even anti-military) objectives, I can't really hold him to the same level of accountability I would someone who had an actual clue. The reason, as you may have guessed, has to do with the specific definition of "accident" used by us nukes. A nuclear "accident", by definition, is a reactor problem that results in core damage. Most laymen would consider quite a few of what we call "incidents" to be "accidents", but that still doesn't enable them to claim that someone who does know the difference is lying. If the core's not damaged, it's not an accident, so Sen. McCain is correct.
In your comments for this post, please remember your NNPI debrief...