The elephant census

By A. Priori

Hello, my name is Auguste Priori, and I’m here to conduct a census. How many elephants are there in this room?

Excuse me?

This room is “Nuclear Power,” am I right? It says so on the door.

Yes, this is Nuclear Power, but what’s this about elephants?

It’s important to keep track of elephants, don’t you agree? Whenever an elephant turns up in a room where it doesn’t belong, people have trouble talking about it, and if it stays around for a really long time, people can even forget that the elephant is still there. May I come in?

I assure you, if we had any elephants around here, we’d know about it.

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Just step aside, please, while I get out some peanuts.

All right, but please be quick about it, we’re very busy—

Ahh, here’s one. It’s wearing a headdress labeled “Zero Tolerance.” That’s one elephant so far.

Oh, that one. Well, it isn’t very big, and it doesn’t really bother us much—

Not yet, perhaps, but just wait until you start building several new reactors. You’ll need lots of skilled and experienced craft workers, and if you’re really stringent about keeping out everyone with any history of recreational drug use, you may have a lot of trouble filling every position—Hey there, Z.T., I need enough peanuts for everyone. Maybe you should go to rehab—

Are you finished yet?

Not yet, here comes one called “Effluent Temperature.” You can’t be ignoring this one, can you?

Believe me, we’re aware of the dead fish smell. We’re working very hard to get this one out of the room.

Maybe you should first agree on what kind of work to do. From what I’ve heard, some of you are exploring opportunities to use up a little energy and money to reduce effluent temperature while limiting additional evaporation, while others are digging in and insisting on keeping the status quo. One of you paid only $10 million for a reactor 11 years ago, but now wants to cut 10 years off of its renewed license rather than add more cooling.

Shouldn’t you be finding out if these elephants sleep wherever they want?

Heavens no, that’s only an issue with 500-pound gorillas. Somebody else is in charge of that census.

We look forward to cooperating with that, and now if you’ll excuse us—

First let me jot down the name of that little one over in the corner. Is that “Foreign Ownership?”

Almost nobody in here has anything to do with that one.

Oh, even if it’s only one of you, it can become a headache for all of you. Now then, I do have to move on. I’ll just attach this elephant-webcam to the wall, so I can check on you again later, and see if there are any more that I’ve missed. By the way, have you seen an elephant named “Medical Isotope Production?”

That’s next door. Nuclear Medicine. We’re turning out cobalt-60 for them now.

Very good. With your talent and initiative, you can even help get elephants out of other rooms. Just stay focused, and I’m sure that in no time you’ll get rid of all of your elephants.

What elephants?


Illustrated by Susan Roberts


A. Priori sometimes occurs when E. Michael Blake, a Senior Editor of the ANS newsmagazine Nuclear News, has a senior editorial moment. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent stances or policies of Nuclear News or ANS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s