02/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TVA Doublespeak Translated: "We Must Stress the Fish"

If you have been closely following the two spills of coal waste by the Tennessee Valley Authority in Tennessee and Alabama, you may have noticed an inordinate amount of Orwellian language and doublespeak coming from the mouths of certain politicians and TVA officials.

TVA seems determined to bury the public in confusing technical jargon and jibberish. A review of TVA's latest water testing data on the Emory River reveals 21 pages of raw technical data that doesn't answer the basic question that everyone in Kingston wants to know: Is my family going to get sick or get cancer and die if we drink our tap water?

The TVA data does include information such as "Elevated detection limits due to high analyte concentration." TVA has a nice color map showing the locations for all their water samples, but they neglect to include some basic information - such as the direction of the river flow and the location of the Kingston city water intake - that would help the public understand the data and make informed decisions about their health and well-being.

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Contradictory statements from government officials and TVA have been similarly confusing to the public. According to a Dec 13 Associated Press article "Tenn. presses TVA for details of ash spill cleanup" by Duncan Mansfield, "TVA officials say the cost of the cleanup will be borne in the electric rates of the 9 million consumers TVA serves across Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia." But then Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen states "I'm also committed to make sure Tennessee taxpayers don't foot the bill."

Sounds great, Governor, but who do you propose should pay for the hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs? The taxpayers of Pluto? How about the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company? We know one thing for sure - it won't come out of the paycheck of TVA CEO Tom Kilgore, who just received a bonus of more than $1 million for doing such a good job running TVA.

I've been reading all these news articles, but lately I'm having so much trouble wading through all the TVA press releases about their harmless "cenospheres" and their statements such as "The ash is mostly inert and breathing fly ash for a short period of time is unlikely to be a health concern."

So I decided to use a translator.

I took the Associated Press article by Duncan Mansfield, and used Google Translator to try and sort through all of the BS. I first translated the article from English into Spanish, then into Korean, then into Bulgarian, then back to English.

The results occasionally shed more light on the issue than the original AP article:

"I cleaned of spills and similar situations in the future, do everything possible to avoid doing the best we can help in the morning," Gov. Phil Bredesen said in a statement. "I am also Tennessee taxpayer must pay the bill."

TVA is committed to cleaning and restoring the site and management of all facilities, including eight hours in Tennessee, 11 coal plants, and VAT returns, to avoid such a situation.

... But approval is killing fish. Catfish and black in this week Kingston emori and rivers in gill kkoburin miles of the plant is completely covered with ashes, "Dan Hicks, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, in accordance with the speaker have.

"We must stress the fish, the fish usually stressed dead fish," he said.

Despite the comical George-Bush style mangling of the English language, Google Translator also foretells some darker, more ominous secrets about the catastrophe:

The river is still being developed, and how to dig still several jujjeumeunui said. Watts Bar Lake for the environment, make the bottom of the tank is worried about the lower Tennessee River. Mercury and radioactive cesium in the First World War 2 in Oak Ridzh to build a nuclear bomb in 1990-ies and the civil servants working in Watts Bar savings deposits is more left to freeze.

Hmmm, the First World War 2.... I don't like the sound of that at all.