The Dec. 23 front-page article by Joby Warrick about injustices done to workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant included no identification of the guilty contractor until the story jumped inside the paper. The phrase "company memo" was used instead. The continuation of the article was mostly about the behavior of Union Carbide, which was largely responsible for the situation characterized as "ghastly" in the Dec. 31 editorial "Nuclear Horror Tale."
That editorial, however, never identified Union Carbide, although it referred to "superiors" who induced a "whistle-blower" to retire. A reader in a hurry might have assumed the most frequently mentioned possibility--the federal government.
Other bothersome questions about that editorial were:
* Why was equal acceptance accorded the claim of the "recent contractors" that "the harm was done before they took over," which was true, and the self-serving claim of the unnamed "prior" contractor that "the truth is impossible to reconstruct" after Mr. Warrick has been doing such a good job of reconstructing it?
* Why should redress have to come, as implied by the editorial, through legislation or government executive action? Apparently, Union Carbide withheld prudent safety measures and continued to expose its employees to known risks, directly causing grievous harm. So why no hint of redress through the courts?
* The editorial concluded, "Who trusts the government" is "the ultimate problem," yet it also mentions, "It's not clear to what extent senior officials at the Energy Department were aware of problems" and cites a "welcome sense of urgency" on the part of government. Apparently, the available evidence against the government is less damning than that against Union Carbide. Further, the government is undertaking an ethical response, in contrast with Union Carbide's continuing denials.
Surely the ultimate problem is less "Who trusts the government" than "Which large corporations can we trust."