January 12, 2010 4:01PM

“Risk of Accidents Ameliorated!” Doesn’t Sell Papers

What a headline on the Washington Examiner today! It’s a good illustration of the propensity of media to overplay terrorism.

“Terror threat to city water,” the headline blares in large type. “Chlorine changed to protect D.C., Va. supply.”

The actual story is about the Army Corps of Engineers’ switch from chlorine gas to a liquid form of chlorine called sodium hypochlorite. Gaseous chlorine is relatively more dangerous and difficult to contain if it’s released, so the change is a prudent safety step.

It has as much to do with protecting against accidental release as any terror threat. And an accidental release is not a threat to the water supply; it’s a threat to people near the facilities or transportation corridors where cholrine gas could be released.

The idea of terrorism may have gotten the Corps moving forward, but nothing in the story says there was any specific threat by anyone to attack the D.C. water treatment infrastructure.

This is a story about risks being ameliorated, and it’s pretty boring—except for the headline!!