A letter in this week’s issue of C&EN takes us to task on our word choices:
I was disappointed to see the words “blast” and “explosion” used to describe the incidents at both Williams Cos. and at CF Industries in Louisiana (C&EN, June 24, page 5). Although both incidents involved fatalities, the CF Industries accident appears to have been caused by the rupture of a nitrogen line or vessel by overpressure. The mainstream press may think that is an explosion, but heaven help us if C&EN does.
Scotch Plains, N.J.
This is certainly something that I’ve thought about when reporting on incidents and compiling the news round ups. The challenge is that in a lot of cases, I don’t see good alternatives to “blast” or “explosion.” Complete this sentence: “The reaction released carbon dioxide, so pressure built up in the flask and it _________.”
I understand what I suspect is Rosera’s point, which is that a pipe or vessel rupture due to corrosion or pressure is a different scenario from something involving an explosive material, but does the answer lie in different vocabulary or giving the the details of what happened to put words like “explosion” in the appropriate context? The referenced story did that for the CF Industries incident, but similar details were not yet available with the Williams Cos. plant.