The lack of communication to the public when something’s gone wrong at hazardous industrial sites in the region has us more than a little “upset.”
From the “process upset” — an explosion really — at Eastman Chemical’s coal gasification plant in Kingsport a few years back to the “condition upset” — some sort of injurious chemical reaction — on Monday at Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, companies need to stop hiding behind meaningless jargon during emergency situations at these dangerous facilities.
In addition to the potential for harm to workers inside — who are our friends and relatives — certain emergencies at these high-risk operators could be catastrophic to our communities outside the plants.
Call it human nature for self preservation or simply a predisposition to worry, but when we see ambulances and fire trucks screaming past, we fear the worst.
Then the rumor mill starts up. During the emergency at Nuclear Fuels, we heard everything from a mass-casualty event taking place to emergency workers being told to lie about the severity of the situation.
That’s why it’s important for these companies to quickly get accurate information out to the public and to first responders.
When they issue terse, cagey statements about “upsets,” it seems like they are hiding something.
There’s a difference between being in the community and being a part of the community.
In the community is a geographical location, an address. Being part of the community means being open and honest with the people who live here.
We want these businesses to be a part of our community, but they’ve got to earn and maintain our trust.