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A dirty word, dump. It’s a multi-barrier geological engineered containment facility

It seems I’m in bother. No, sorry. Nothing seeming about it. I’m in trouble deep. Bad language is my crime. Not something ladies of a certain age and standing enjoy admitting.

There I go again. Apologies for linguistic sloppiness. Use of the word lady is made loosely – or, more likely, incorrectly.

No lady, as my unhappy propensity to run off at the mouth proves. I have offended with a short-form... oh, the shame of it.

I said ‘dump’. Unforgivable, I know. But it’s true and one has to face up to one’s sins.

I said dump when I should have said highly engineered facility combining packaging/geology/backfilling to isolate waste/contain radionuclides.

My head is hanging. How could I have been so reckless?

Alternatively – apparently there are a number of alternatives – I could have said Geological Disposal Facility. Or even multi-barrier geological engineered containment facility. But no. Like a fishwife with hairy armpits, ample gut, dirty pinny and concertina-wrinkled stockings, I opened my foul mouth and out came...dump.

It’s apparently not done to refer to a nuclear waste repository (a slightly more acceptable term) as a dump. I know that now, having been ticked off by any number of experts, councillors, nuclear industry specialists, activists and even an MP, for my verbal obscenity.

They obviously know better than most, because some of them could even spell.

So, my dump slip on a social media network sent them all off into a Twitter fracas about the importance of employing correct terminology, which apparently is much more crucial than the main event. That being the dump, of course.

To make matters worse – which some people do, when under fire – I offered another offending approach.

“Well, a dump by any other name is a... erm, landfill. Don’t you think?”

Big mistake, that. Huge.

“I don’t think dump or landfill describe what is being considered. But are perhaps more userfriendly/perjorative (sic) terms,” one replied a bit sniffily, getting in a sneaky dig.

Pejorative? I was thinking – well, shorter and to the point actually. But what do I know?

“Dump implies, like landfill, just tipping the waste in a hole. Absolutely not what is being considered,” chipped in another helpfully.

And so it went on with aggressively offered dictionary definitions of my word and technical mumbo-jumbo arrangements of theirs. Oh and a few, who pitied me, interrupted with some gentle support.

The more who entered the fray, the more wound-up everybody grew and the more enchanted I became with the unavoidable, inescapable, utterly entertaining fundamentals of human nature.

How swiftly and happily we can all be distracted from what we believe to be an urgent – even life and death – issue by a bit of a row and the chance to show off.

Flagrant misuse of Roget’s Thesaurus, supplemented with a few made-up words, can fool a lot of the people much of the time. Not me though. I prefer to dump gobbledegook.

There’s a lot to be said for letting official and political designer verbosity continue, though – especially if you’re worried about the imminent creation of a nuclear waste repository under Cumbria’s green and pleasant land.

The way we’re going, it’ll be 30 years before anybody can agree what to call it – never mind where to put it. And that must take at least some of the angry heat out of the burgeoning row.

So, there’s probably good cause to mind your language, while not minding too much when others with vested interests try to mind your language too. It could be tactical.

“So, you’d admit, seeing as how the waste isn’t going to be dumped, dump isn’t appropriate?”

The councillor was persistent in defence of his favoured highly engineered geological disposal facility.

Too long in the tooth to be persuaded now that half a dozen words are ever more effective than one, I used a single short one: “No.”

There it is and here I am. In bother again for telling it as I see it. Those of you who know the difference between a dump and a highly engineered facility combining packaging/geology/backfilling to isolate waste/contain radionuclides will guess how upset I am.

Have your say

I too suffered the same severe reprimand in the same conversation.

I have taken legal advice on the matter from a retired solicitor and given the current legitimacy of the MRWS process we may in the future be “Guilty as charged" M'lad. I fear we may well hang together !

Posted by Colin Wales on 26 January 2013 at 18:06

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