I was heading into work today when I heard someone on NPR talking about the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the rig’s owners Transocean. Apparently Transocean is trying to limit the company’s liability to about $27 million even though it has already been paid over $400 million by the company’s insurers. While I think that’s pretty shitty, that wasn’t really what grabbed my attention during the brief “coming up next” announcement.
No, what grabbed my attention was that the NPR guy said that the rig was “damaged.” Not destroyed, just damaged. And I might be OK with using the word “damaged” if it had only been the explosion and fire. But last I checked, it had sunk in water nearly a mile deep. That strikes me as needing an adjective that’s a bit more… serious than “damaged” implies.
“Sunken” works pretty good. “Destroyed” sounds good to me too. And if the technology exists to raise the Deepwater Horizon from off the ocean floor a mile down, then I’m fine with “salvageable” too. But not “damaged.”
The rig is gone. Sunk. As a result, the wellhead is likely dumping at least 20,000 barrels of oil into the gulf every day and could be dumping as much as 100,000 barrels per day, well in excess of the official 5,000 barrels per day estimate. Given the situation, I think we can find words from the English language that are a bit more accurate than “damaged.”
Categories: Arts/Literature, Energy, Environment/Nature, Journalism, Media/Entertainment
So now you have issues with the judicious application of rhetorical understatement?
If there had been any indication via vocal inflection or something similar that the guy was trying to understate, I would have chuckled at it and moved on to the more substantive issue of Transocean’s legal strategy. But there wasn’t that my ears could detect.
They leave no stone unturned in their unstinting efforts to downplay this.
Does “damaged” earn them more insurance money or less liability than “destroyed”?